Pope overhauls Knights of Malta

The Pontiff has dissolved the leadership of the order, issuing new constitution that’s set to make it more democratic

Pope Francis announced a revamp of Knights of Malta. This global charitable group and important Catholic religious order was dissolving their leadership. Also, the Pontiff issued a revised constitution for the Order and established a temporary government.

This overhaul follows years of debate on the future of the group. It was officially called the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem. It was founded in Jerusalem nearly 1000 years ago. While it started as a religious military order. However, the group has since evolved to be a humanitarian organization, operating clinics worldwide, refugee camps, and other institutions.

The Pope celebrated the announcement of the revamp and praised those involved. “generous contribution of Members and Volunteers,”The order brings together more than 100,000 volunteers worldwide and over 50,000 doctors. But he also recognized the importance of “begin a profound spiritual, moral and institutional renewal of the entire Order.”

The institution’s major changes include the democraticization of its order. With the new constitution removing the requirement for a noble background for Grand Master and top Knights, the rules for these positions have been eliminated. This rule effectively prevented non-Europeans ever from reaching the highest ranks of the order’s orders.

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FILE PHOTO. Pope Francis prays in Rome, Italy. ©Franco Origlia / Getty Images
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“It will be more democratic. The question of nobility has now become secondary,” the Pope’s special delegate to the order, Cardinal Silvano Tomasi, told reporters at a press briefing. “We hope this will re-establish unity in the order and increase its ability to serve the poor and the sick,”He concluded.

These changes were welcomed by the order, and the Lieutenant of Grand Master, Canadian John Dunlap was appointed to head the caretaker government. He stated that the overhaul had been demonstrated. “the great love the Pontiff has for our Order.”

“In his careful review of the various proposals put before Him these last months, the Pope has determined a path forward that promises to ensure the Order’s future both as a Religious Institute and a Sovereign Entity,”He stated.

The order’s caretaker government will continue to be in control until January 25 when a special general chapter will convene to elect the Grand Master. Giacomo Dalla Torre was the last Grand Master to die in April. The post has remained vacant ever since.



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