INTERVENTION BY THE CARDINAL GRAND MASTER
Dear Knights and Dames of the Order,
A cordial greeting to all of you who, in presence or via the web, are participating in the work of the present Session of the Grand Magisterium.
Here in Rome, we began our day with a solemn celebration of Holy Mass presided over by His Eminence the newly appointed Cardinal Fortunato Frezza on whom I conferred the title of Knight of the Grand Cross, also in recognition for his service as Master of Ceremonies and Spiritual Assistant of the Order. Yesterday in St. Peter’s, with the participation of the Holy Father, we celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the beginning of the Council, on the liturgical feast of John XXIII Our Order lived the years of the Council with and in the Church; years of generous participation in the solicitude of the whole Catholic Church for the Holy Land, with its political/military crises, with the crisis of the exodus of so many Christian families. But also with so much support for the educational needs of young people, of young people in crafts, in social and pastoral life. Having this awareness does not mean to look back, but feeling the energy for a renewed commitment of the entire Order, which has recently received a new Statute, a renewed Ritual, a spiritual impulse, and is projected towards a Consulta that we hope will be full of good fruits, in which we intend to involve
our Grand Priors.
I now leave the floor to the Governor General and to you.
I would just like to add that during the Investiture and relational meetings – both individual and communal – I met many of our Members, Knights and Dames, of great generosity. To all my esteem.
INTERVENTION BY THE PATRIARCH
I would like to greet you all from Jerusalem, at the beginning of these days of work which traditionally see you gathered together to help you see the reality of the Order, the state of work in progress, take stock of the situation and share projects and achievements. Once again this year, there are many projects and realities that the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem has supported, both in the area of projects and in the area of pastoral and humanitarian aid. In its various territorial and personal realities, including Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Migrants and many other ecclesial realities, the local Church in Jerusalem has been able to live with serenity, thanks to the support of the Knights and Dames. During this year, many projects and ideas have been realized, but there are also many future projects, fruit of the
vitality and desire for growth of this Church of ours. I am thinking in particular of the humanitarian and pastoral support for our local realities distributed throughout the territory, but also of what is being planned in Haifa, as a pastoral centre for Galilee, and the establishment of a proper Vicariate in Cyprus, an island truly in need of greater pastoral attention. The service of proclaiming the Word made flesh also passes through these economic and practical aspects, which are by no means secondary. I am grateful for your participation and support in the ecclesial life of the Holy Land. On behalf of the Church of Jerusalem – parishes, schools, nursing homes, the poor, the sick and the needy – I express my gratitude for the support that through your solicitude reaches the different realities spread throughout the territory of our Diocese, enlivening them and allowing their material and spiritual growth. I hope that the work of the assembly, in the light of the Gospel, will be fruitful and constructive, and to each one I offer my most cordial greeting, assuring you of my remembrance in prayer to the Lord from these Holy Places.
INTERVENTION BY THE GOVERNOR GENERAL
Once again, health conditions oblige us to hold the Grand Magisterium in a mixed format. However, I welcome both those present and those who follow us from far away, and I would like to give a brief update on the activities carried out in recent months, reserving the right to answer later any questions or requests for clarification.
Since the last Grand Magisterium on 12 April, we have experienced a fairly intense period, which has seen the Cardinal Grand Master attend numerous investitures, hold conferences and participate in meetings with increasing intensity. Outstanding among them all, in terms of importance and significance, was the solemn visit to the Holy Land, which finally took place from 9 to 14 May, and which experienced moments of the highest spirituality in the Holy Places and saw the consecration
of the beautiful church of Jubeja in Jordan, one of the major projects of the past few years, finally completed. With the solemn entry into the Holy Sepulchre and the visits to Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth, the Cardinal Grand Master had a series of important meetings with religious authorities and conferred the Collar of the Order on His Beatitude the Patriarch. After the investiture ceremonies in Lugano and Assisi, the Cardinal attended the annual meeting of the North American Lieutenants in Pasadena near Los Angeles, which had twice been postponed due to sanitary emergency. We have regularly reported on all these events through the news channels and I am not here to repeat what you are certainly already aware of. What I would like to emphasis, having followed His Eminence in almost every meeting, is the spirit of intense participation that each event entails, through a dialogue that has intensified and given new impetus to the process of relaunching the Order’s activities after the years of the pandemic. A dialogue that has not been limited to the beautiful homilies addressed by His Eminence at each
Holy Mass, but has been enriched by direct conversations with the Lieutenants, who increasingly wish to meet the Cardinal Grand Master in person, and with the faithful, of all ages and conditions. It is significant, for example, that in Lugano, on the occasion of the Investiture of the Lieutenancy of Switzerland, the Lieutenants of Portugal, Eastern Spain, Luxembourg and Holland were present, and that in Assisi, on the occasion of the Investiture of the Lieutenancy of Apennine Italy, all the
Italian Lieutenants were present, as well as those of Switzerland and Malta. A choral dialogue therefore, which extends to young people, as was the case in Lugano, or to families as was the case in Pasadena. In the spirit of broadening the dialogue, the Cardinal Grand Master launched a survey in September to find out the orientation of the Lieutenancies to the idea of also inviting the Grand Priors of Lieutenancies to the next Consulta. The response was overwhelmingly favourable. I would almost
say that the initiative was expected. Instructions were therefore given by the Grand Master to start the organisation, and to this end a Commission was appointed, chaired by the Chancellor, Ambassador Alfredo Bastianelli. In the past few days, a note was therefore sent to all the Lieutenants requesting to provide
information on the training activities they had initiated. More specifically, they were asked to provide by 30 November an illustrative sheet of the training courses offered to candidates for investiture, and to explain how they organise the training of ongoing members and the training of trainers (lay and clerical). Many replies have already been received. The new formula of the Consulta will allow for a more organic collaboration of the lay and ecclesiastical components. The purpose of this innovation is quickly explained: while reaffirming the Order’s lay nature, the ecclesiastical component is an important support. Moreover, it has received the widest recognition, with the appointment by the Holy Father of no less than five Cardinals belonging to the Order in the recent consistory in August. The Consulta’s programme, which will be intense, will include an audience with the Holy Father on Thursday, 9 November 2023 at 12 noon and a pilgrimage to Greggio.
Another recent initiative of the Grand Master, which is part of the dialogue between the lay and ecclesiastical components of the Order, consisted in sending a document on the ecclesiological significance of aid to the Holy Land to be distributed to all the bishops in order to make them aware
of their pastoral responsibilities towards our institution. However, the activity of these months has not been limited to contacts. After finalising the Rituals,
a Commission chaired by the Cardinal Grand Master is now meeting on a weekly basis to draw up a draft of the Regulations, which will have to integrate and interpret the Statute. This is a complex and articulated work that will take some time and the result will then be subject to a period of verification. The text, clearly indicating the duties of the Lieutenant, also makes up for the failure to finalise and send a final document of the last Consultation in 2018, which should have defined a
sort of “Lieutenant’s Manual”. In terms of administrative management, contacts with the Supervisory Bodies of the Holy See have also been very intense: new criteria for the preparation of financial statements have been introduced in the Vatican, new controls on financial transactions, all aimed at greater transparency and
efficiency. We have gathered the widest consensus and approval for our work, which also gives us peace of mind in the conduct of the procedures for the search and assignment of a portion of Palazzo della Rovere as an hotel. The work on the Palazzo della Rovere, our only property, donated to the Order by Pope Pius XII (of
revered memory), has been carried out with great care, and has brought to light archaeological finds from Imperial and Medieval Rome of great artistic and scientific interest, which we will collect in a small museum, for which we have requested and obtained a contribution from the Italian Government. Soon we expect to conclude a contract with a leading international company and we will start the renovation work, which – I would like to emphasise – will be entirely paid for by the tenant and will
not affect the Order’s budget in the slightest. A confidentiality agreement signed with the other party does not allow me to say more at this time: however, I will inform the members of the Grand Magisterium, as soon as I am able, on the outcome of the negotiations underway. I will only say that my impression is that we are carrying out a project of great importance and interest, which will bring great benefits to the Order. A great effort continues in the field of information, with an ever-widening dissemination of news about the Order, in harmony with the activities carried out by the Provinces. The activity of events and visits to the Palazzo della Rovere has resumed significantly with relevant fundraising and donations for the Holy Land. The Order’s expansion efforts continue. A new Magistral Delegation was created in Slovakia. Contacts are underway with Latin American countries, such as Panama, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador, and surveys have also been launched with African countries. With the other countries, which are already members, area contacts are intensifying: after those of the Iberian Peninsula last
year in Madrid and in recent days in Cordoba, and those of Italy in Assisi, I recently had a meeting with the Central European lieutenancies in Vienna and with the Nordic lieutenancies in Stockholm. The French-speaking lieutenancies in Europe and Canada have begun a fruitful exchange of
experiences of best practices, seeking synergies and collaboration. At the Australian national meeting at the end of May, which coincided with the North American
national meeting, participation took place through a video message, in the hope of a visit soon. A planned visit to Taiwan was postponed due to the worsening political situation. We therefore try to seize every opportunity for dialogue and encounter: at the Consistory on 27 August, we had three Vice Governors, many members of the Grand Magisterium and numerous Lieutenants and members of the Order coming from all over the world, a circumstance that allowed for fruitful exchanges of views and in the Cathedral a visibility that everyone could see. We will soon hold the meeting of the European Lieutenants and that of the Latin American
countries. With the Latin Patriarchate, thanks also to last May’s visit, talks are ongoing. The resources raised for the health crisis have partly compensated for the losses due to the Euro-dollar exchange rate and the worsening of the economic crisis. In recent days, I had a conversation in Rome with Patriarch
Pierbattista Pizzaballa, receiving useful indications for the programme for 2023, which must give priority to pastoral help and humanitarian initiatives.
The total amount planned for the Holy Land is Euro 13,400.00, as the Treasurer will explain in more detail in his speech. Pilgrimages are also resuming, and to this end, a project has been set up in cooperation with the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, which will give every pilgrim a greater awareness of the Order of the
Holy Sepulchre’s role in keeping alive the Christian presence in the Holy Land, through a visit to one of the institutions we support. In the background remains the concern for the political situation: the general picture in the Holy Land – needless to hide it from us – is always complex. The Russian-Ukrainian war has had an
emotional involvement in Israel, given the numerical importance of the Russian ethnic component in the Israeli social structure, and has also led to a certain marginalisation of the Israeli-Palestinian issue in the attention of international public opinion. The conflict in Gaza continues. The tension between Jews and Arabs has escalated with an upsurge in attacks. The economic crisis has generated a generalised impoverishment of the population, which is partly offset by welfare support
in Israel, but not in Palestine. Finally, the increasingly discriminatory application of Israeli nationstate law and the continuing policy of settlements and annexation of Palestinian territories make the concrete realisation of the ‘two-state’ solution increasingly utopian. We are facing – it is useless to
hide it – a worsening of the political and social situation in the Holy Land. On the other hand, the Church in the Holy Land has given positive signs. The appointment of a new Apostolic Nuncius in Israel and Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine, Monsignor Adolfo Tito Yllana, and of the auxiliary Bishops of the Latin Patriarchate vicars for Israel and Jordan, and the confirmation of the mandate of the Custos of the Holy Land, the renewal of many offices in the Patriarchate, have given new dynamism to the Church’s action. The May meetings of the Cardinal Grand Master confirmed this. On the administrative level, I refer you to the intervention of the Treasurer. I will simply note that fundraising is experiencing difficult times and that we are approaching the end of the year always with the concern of balancing the budget. The Council in the format envisaged will have higher expenses. We trust in the sensitivity of all the members of the Order to grasp the exceptional nature
of the event. For our part, we will make every effort to contain expenses. The Vatican Secretariat for the Economy gave us guidelines for the preparation of the 2023 budget and imposed certain rules on staff recruitment and spending limits, which we will strictly adhere to.
I would like to conclude my speech with a devout thought to the Holy Father, whose support is a real comfort and encouragement, a heartfelt thank you to the Cardinal Grand Master for the benevolence with which he supports my daily work, an appreciation to all the members of the Grand Magisterium who assist me in the management of the Order, and finally a heartfelt thank you to my collaborators.