If I Were the Sovereign Order of Malta, I’d Be Miffed…
by Elizabeth Westhoff
Posted at the blog, Virtual Vestibule – Archdiocese of St. Louis
Since the rumors concerning His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke’s reassignment as the Cardinalis Patronus of the Sovereign Order of Malta, all we’re hearing is what a demotion this new position is. (Interestingly enough, when Cardinal Burke was appointed as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, his detractors and the mainstream media went berserk with talk of that being a demotion despite that, beside the Holy Father, he held the second most powerful position in the Roman Curia.)
In the more anxious circles of the Catholic Church, the transfer is being examined and dissected in any number of ways. In the more uncharitable circles of the Church, the transfer is being celebrated with mocking commentary about His Eminence and the Order of Malta. Internal politics of the Church aside for a moment, the Cardinal’s new position is being touted generally as “ceremonial,” “pencil-pushing,” “punitive” and the like.
What mustHospital-cameroon those who are members of the Sovereign Order of Malta be thinking about all of this?
According to their website, “the Order of St John of Jerusalem is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilization. Present in Palestine in around 1050, it is a lay religious Order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature. Its 13,500 members… [are] devoted to the exercise of Christian virtue and charity. What distinguishes the Knights of Malta is their commitment to reaching their spiritual perfection within the Church and to expending their energies serving the poor and the sick.” The site goes on to state: “The Order of Malta remains true to its inspiring principles, nurturing, witnessing and protecting the faith and serving the poor and the sick representing the Lord, which become reality through the voluntary work carried out by Dames and Knights in humanitarian assistance and medical and social activities.” Finally, “The Sovereign Order of Malta is a sovereign subject of international law, with its own constitution, passports, stamps, and public institutions. The Order has diplomatic relations with 104 countries – manyOrdine-di-Malta-soccorso-ai-migranti of which non-Catholic – and missions to major European countries, as well as to European and international organizations. The Order of Malta is neutral, impartial and non-political, which is why it can successfully act as a mediator between States.”
The Sovereign Order of Malta is no small thing, nor are the innumerable corporal works of mercy it carries out in over 120 countries around the globe. In fact, and here’s where I’ll irritate several people, I’d venture to say the Order of Malta is actually carrying out the mission of the Catholic Church and the directives of Christ Himself in a more efficacious way than some of the social institutions and religious orders of the Church.
It’s Just a Bunch of Wealthy People Showing Off
Even if that were what the Order of Malta is about—which it is not—for some inexplicable reason, our culture seems to think that money, pageantry, and ceremony are backwards, evil things to be avoided (except when it comes to spending obscene amounts of money on symbolically-laden weddings). There is nothing wrong with ceremony, pageantry, or wealth as long as they’re put to good use and the Sovereign Order of Malta does precisely that.