RIVISTA 1998                                                   




The Sovereign Order on the eve of the Third Millennium

International Meeting of Communication Delegates

Rome, Palazzo Rodi - 22 may


Excellencies, friends who have come here from all over the world,

 it is an honour for me to bring you the greetings of His Most Eminent Highness the Prince and Grand Master, who has always followed the affairs of the Order’s communications with great interest. The theme of today’s meeting is the 900th anniversary of the Order’s Institution. We could say a jubilee of the Order, at the same time marking a point of arrival and departure towards the new millennium. The occasion offered me by this meeting is certainly also useful for providing some information on what the Order has achieved during these last years. The Order has lived in Rome during its long exile and it is in Rome that it has its headquarters in the building on Via Condotti. You all know how certain moments have not been easy. You all know, during the period when its relations with the Holy See had become rather tense, how difficult it was for the Grand Master and for his Lieutenant to carry on when the Order also had economic difficulties. That period is now behind us; and the Mastership of Grand Master de Mojana brought great results. In 1960 the Order had around twenty diplomatic relations on a level of ambassadors and four or five legations. Today I have the honour and satisfaction of telling you that we now have diplomatic relations with eighty-one countries, including important ones such as Austria, Italy and Spain, Portugal and others.

This growth, first fostered by Grand Master de Mojana, has continued during the Mastership of Fra’ Andrew Bertie There is no doubt that an important step has been made from the Order’s situation in the Sixties to its status in the Eighties and Nineties, with a great effort to adapt its structures not only to its new needs determined by today’s times but also to the Second Vatican Council. I have to acknowledge the merits of the Order’s members who have helped to achieve this internal and external evolution and in particular the Grand Priories and National Associations. On the international level, I would like to recall the significance of the 1988 seminar, where the need to reform the Order’s managers was realised, creating a series of working groups which would spell out the various requirements. I will not bore you with details because you are well aware of all this. I have to say, however, that the road taken at that time, desired by Grand Master de Mojana and Grand Master Bertie, has produced extraordinary results.




Roma. Villa Magistrale. Messa solenne celebrata dal Cardinalis Patronus dell’Ordine, Sua Eminenza Pio Laghi, per la festa di San Giovanni Battista, alla presenza di Sua Altezza Eminentissima il Principe e Gran Maestro, il Sovrano Consiglio e membri del Corpo Diplomatico accreditati presso l’Ordine, che subito dopo la cerimonia religiosa hanno fatto i tradizionali auguri a S.A.Em.a Fra’ Andrew Bertie ed a S.E. il Gran Cancelliere, Amb. Conte Don Carlo Marullo di Condojanni.

Rome. Magistral Villa. The solemn Holy Mass celebrated by the Order’s Patron Cardinal, His Eminence Pio Laghi, for the feast of Saint John the Baptist, in the presence of H.M.E.H. the Prince and Grand Master, the Sovereign Council and members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Order, who shortly after the religious ceremonies presented their traditional greetings to H.M.E.H. Fra’ Andrew Bertie, and to H.E. the Grand Chancellor, Amb. Conte Don Carlo Marullo di Condojanni.

Roma. Villa Magistrale all’Aventitno. Il Capitolo Generale presieduto da Sua Altezza Eminentissima il Principe e Gran Maestro, assistito da S.E, il Gran Cancelliere, Amb. Conte Don Carlo Marullo di Condojanni (sin.) e S.E. il Gran Commendatore, Ven. Balì Fra’ Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumersterin. Alla sinistra del Gran Cancelliere, il Prelato dell’Ordine, Mons. Donato de Bonis. Questo Capitolo Generale è il primo Capitolo Ordinario tenutosi dopo la Riforma della Carta Costituzionale e del Codice e l’ultimo di questo millennio.

Rome. Magistral Villa on the Aventine Hill. The Chapter General presided over by H.M.E.H. the Prince and Grand Master, assisted by H.E. the Grand Chancellor, Amb. Count Don Carlo Marullo di Condojanni, (left) and H.E. the Grand Commander, Ven. Balìff Fra’ Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein. On the left of the Grand Chancellor, the Order’s Prelate, Msgr. Donato de Bonis. This Chapter General is the first Ordinary Chapter to be held after the Reform of the Constitutional Charter and Code and the last of this millennium.


The National Associations and Grand Priories have been able to make their voices heard in the furthermost corners of the Magistry: and that motion for the reform of the constitutional documents which so felicitously ended in January this year was prompted precisely by the Presidents of the National Associations. You are all well aware of the differing opinions, the obstacles to this evolution of the Order, but there are majorities and minorities in all communities. After a frank debate we have reached the conclusion now accepted by all, and this conclusion is the result of the Extraordinary General Chapter of 28th-30th April 1997 in which the Constitutional Charter was approved which today regulates us. What is so amazing about this is the fact that the Chancellery managed to obtain from the Vatican the approval of both constitutional documents in only nine days. What does this mean?

It means that relations with the Holy See have not only intensified in recent years, but are underpinned by a great mutual trust as proven by this splendid result, finally cancelling out the experiences of 1951.

From a political point of view I want to explain what the new Constitutional Charter and Code means for the Order, for its present managers, for you, for all the Knights. The new Constitutional Charter has been a turning point for the Order that can unquestionably be defined as epochal. This Charter brings down all the barriers to the Order’s sovereignty set up by the cardinals’ judgement which, at the time of the discord with the Holy See, had made the Order strictly subordinate to the Vatican. The appointment of the Grand Master had to be confirmed by the Pope, the lay members of the government had to be given dispensations; the Congregation had extensive authority over the Order, including its political and jurisdictional activities. The new Constitutional Charter has done away with all this: the cardinals’ judgement on relations between the Order and the Holy See has been abolished whereas, against this, it has been openly affirmed that the Order’s diplomatic mission to the same Holy See is disciplined by international law; the election of the Grand Master is simply «communicated»; the dispensations for the lay members are given by the Grand Master and the Holy See has no say in the Order’s political and jurisdictional life (the appeal to the Court of Cassation of the Vatican State has also been suppressed) with only the religious members and the spiritual life still being subordinate.


 Roma. Palazzo Magistrale. S.E. il Balì Gran Croce d’Obbedienza Amb. Conte Carlo Marullo di Condojanni, Principe di Casalnuovo, Gran Cancelliere dell’Ordine.

 Rome. Magistral Palace. H.E. Bailiff Grand Cross of Obedience, Amb. Count Carlo Marullo di Condojanni, Prince of Casalnuovo, Grand Chancellor of the Order.


This is why it is an epochal turning point. The countries which still do not recognise us will certainly not have any difficulty in doing so now; above all they will not be able to question our position by saying we are subordinate to the Holy See, as we have heard so many times in the past. This is the true significance of the Constitutional Charter, drawn up by the relevant committees. Naturally, the outside world has been more interested in learning whether the Magistral Knights could or could not enter «in Obedience», or if the Dames could be of Obedience or not and their role. These, however, are minor aspects of the significance of the Charter. The fundamental fact is that the Charter has redesigned our relationship with the Holy See.

How did all this happen? It has certainly been a long road in which negotiations have been intense and the contacts continuous. This road has passed through the seminars, the Latin-American meetings, the gatherings which have marked the political stages in the evolving need for reform and thus also the meetings for approving the same reform.























Roma. Casa di Rodi. S.E. il Gran Cancelliere, Amb. Conte Don Carlo Marullo di Condojanni, durante una cerimonia religiosa nella Cappella Palatina.

Rome, Rhodes House. H.E. the Grand Chancellor, Amb. Count Don Carlo Marullo di Condojanni, during a religious ceremony in the Palatine Chapel.


Along this road the Order has obtained further recognition on an international front, not least its admission, in 1994, to the United Nations as Permanent Observer. This was highly significant because, politically speaking, Embassy contacts are slow as regards both bilateral and multilateral relations. The position we have obtained in the United Nations now enables us to have a direct and rapid contact with 190 countries. If there is a problem, if there is a need, we can obtain a response from States in 24 hours through our mission to the United Nations, because ambassadors and diplomatic representatives to the United Nations obtain preferential treatment on the diplomatic level. It is there that the international discourse is carried on; it is there that replies have to be given immediately. And this has facilitated that recognition from other countries, still under way and now numbering eighty-one, as said before, Naturally, we still have to grow. We have to arrive at half plus one of the members of the United Nations: this is my political pledge as Chancellor. Because only in this way can we raise the issue, in the United Nations, of entering the class of "Observer States" like the Holy See and Switzerland, without necessarily having a sovereign territory. The Order’s sovereignty cannot be based on a strip of land or a few square kilometres of territory which can always be found in the world.

The Order’s sovereignty lies in its diplomatic recognition, in the consensus the international community gives to its mission, over and above its territory, over and above its population; and over and above the idea - now out-of-date - that, for there to be a Sovereign State, there has to be a government, a population and a territory. Otherwise there would be trouble, there would be trouble if the Order decided to give up the vanity of occupying or holding in sovereignty a strip of land ceded it by a State. It would be running a great risk. Because it would never be an effective sovereignty, but sovereignty dependent on a local government, entrusted to the whims of the ruling classes, which can change over time. With the further risk that, if problems should arise in the relations between the State from which the territory has been obtained and the Order, the Order could once again be without territory, as in the times of Napoleon.

And now I come to the Sant’Angelo Fort, a theme linked to this discourse. Everyone knows how attached we are to the Republic of Malta, proved by a thousand things. The Order has taken on the restoration of the Sant’Angelo Fort with the specific idea of making it habitable.
The negotiations under way have taken a step ahead; but it is a step ahead on the level of bilateral relations, because it is fostering the development of a co-operation certainly useful for the Order and for the government of Malta. Without however, and I stress this to avoid misunderstandings, the Order ever having thought of leaving Rome and Italy, leaving its base of international recognition to pursue a sovereignty linked to a small territory of a small island in the Mediterranean. I say this because I have heard many speak on this and I would like to reassure, through you, your respective Presidents and Grand Priors that the Magistry does not intend to take any initiative here. It only wants to take the peaceful path of developing bilateral relations between the Order and the government of Malta. How and when we shall see at the proper time.

Before concluding this general discourse I would like to highlight two, more modest, arguments. The first is the strengthening of the Order’s international structure. The Order, through its various stages, has managed to give itself a new international quality. We have to thank our Hospitaller, who first arranged the international meeting of Hospitallers. But there is also the establishment of a Co-ordination Centre in Miami and our diplomatic mission to the United Nations in New York. There could be a documentation centre in this mission which, among other things, would be very useful in our fight against the Bogus Orders.

The Holy See has recently given a sign of great friendship on this matter, publishing a communication of ours which specified the exclusive legitimacy of the Order of Malta. The Communication Secretariat has given it the maximum circulation. We have also notified our ambassadors to the various countries as well as our mission to the United Nations so it can be transmitted to all the members of the General Assembly. I ask the Communication Delegates to make good use of it whenever necessary. I add that this communication was drawn up in the respect of the four Orders which are not bogus, that is, the Johanniter Order, the Most Venerable Order of Saint John, the Johanniterorden I Sverige and the Johanniterordern in Nederland cited in the note to the United Nations.

The second matter, before going on to the item of the Jubilee on today’s agenda, concerns the updating of the Order’s structures. You will soon be receiving a notice about a reorganisation of services regarding the entire Order. In the Chancellery, instead of two general secretariats, there will be one with two technical offices, passing to an intermediate position between the dignitary and the secretariat with a general directorate.

All the hospitaller and health services must also, slowly this time, be grouped under a new structure. We are working on this. These are not things that can be done in the immediate future, but there is a firm political will to implement this programme.

Now let us come to the agenda of today’s meeting: the famous Jubilee of the Order. Famous because it has been talked about for a long time and now we have finally arrived at the crucial moment of its preparation. What is being asked of the Communications Delegates? To disseminate this news world-wide and encourage the participation of the greatest possible number of Knights. The Jubilee will start in Malta in December this year with a solemn reunion, and there will also be a meeting of the Presidents of National Associations and Ambassadors. This could be the first world meeting of Ambassadors, since I do not think any have been held before. There will then be two days of work during which it will be possible to compare different opinions. I hope the debate will be open, so we can obtain an idea not only of the will but also of the ability of the Order’s members to take an interest and participate in the solution of problems; problems which do not only regard the Magistry but also all the Order’s bodies and even the individual Delegations.
The second event of the Jubilee will take place in April in Rome which will be celebrating the Order in Via Condotti since the Associazione di Via Condotti will be devoting a whole month to festivities. Then there will be the Chapter General, the solemn Papal Audience, and an event on the Aventine Hill on 25 June with an exhibition of paintings, and the pilgrimage to Rhodes in October. We were hoping to make one to the Holy Places as well, but this is still uncertain at the moment. However, the Jubilee will have a solemn conclusion at the end of 1999. It is to be hoped that we can do it on Rhodes but we are still not sure of this. But in this regard, the Grand Magistry, when opening the Order’s Jubilee Year on Malta, will test the effective capacity of involving all the international media in the news of the Order’s ninth centenary. We shall see! However, on the level of Associations and Grand Priories, alongside the many Communication Delegates here today, I would like us to find a direct link with a local media representative who could in one way or another directly channel communications from the centre and vice versa. Why do I say this? Because the Magistry has seen how the communications group functions and how the Secretariat is represented through the Delegates. The result is not encouraging because the communications transmitted almost never find an echo in the media of the various countries. We launched an important news item in 1994, that of the Order’s admission to the United States. We had only five or six small mentions in the media of the countries where we have Communication Delegates. We repeated this experiment with the flash letter, with the same results. It is true that the flash letters are distributed among the Knights but this is not their only aim; the aim is for every individual association to share its life, and thus the life of the Magistry, with the community in which it operates. This is why I think this contact with the local media is urgently necessary.

The Communication Secretary and President of the Communication Board must find a direct link with the main international newspapers; if not the discourse is only made and listened to by us, and we will not achieve anything with regards to the Order’s image. If we do not have an external image of the Order in all countries, we will never have an effective tool for the fight against the Bogus Orders. It is of little use for the Presidents, Grand Priors and individual Knights to send a series of complaints and notices about Bogus Orders to Rome if an Association is not able to have a communication published by the papers like the one which came out in the Osservatore Romano a few days ago, explaining not only what the other orders are not but also what the Order is. It will be very difficult for the Bogus Orders to continue if systematically every month, or every two months, the papers which can be reached by the Associations and Grand Priories carry news of real investitures of Knights and the activities of the Order world-wide. If this is done the Communication Board will be satisfied; if this is not done, the problem will not be solved by making a complaint every so often about a Bogus Order issuing a passport.

Public opinion must be informed. This is also the aim of the Communication Board, the Secretariat and the individual Delegates. But how can the individual Delegates move if they do not have a media representative who manages in some way to keep in contact with the main newspapers? I thus invite Delegates to suggest to us names of top quality journalists accredited in the various countries, so that they can be approached, so that in one way or another a relationship can be established, also possibly making them Magistral Knights.

Because in the end there is a part of international journalism which is healthy, which is also Catholic and which could be extremely useful for us, just as we could be useful to them on the level of spiritual formation.

I hope that this Jubilee will be both an occasion for the sanctification of the Order’s members and a chance to meet, hoping that the Grand Priories and Associations will not arrive unprepared for these pilgrimages. I would like members to participate in our meetings not as a duty imposed by the rank they hold but instead taking pleasure in visiting another country or being with friends. This is also something positive, but I would like us to come to the Order’s Holy Year with a solid preparation behind us. It would be desirable for each Association to promote a spirituality encounter before our Jubilee, perhaps even with a national domestic pilgrimage to prepare everyone for this great community event. We can create magnificent organisations, finance important works or decides to foster international co-operation in the world with the help of the European Community and international organisations. But if we have no spirituality inside all this we will act in vain.

I therefore invite you to meditate on this, as well as seeing how much the Order is in tune with modern needs inside the individual Associations and Grand Priories. Why do I say this? Because the Order doesn’t have many people and in part it has got old. The average age of the Order is extremely high today. The managers who with great dignity hold governing positions in the Order do not have an intermediate changeover, the class of those aged between 60 and 65 is missing. The changeover will occur between the 45 to 50-year olds and those who are over 70 today. This is not physiological. We have to seek new forces inside the Associations, because one does not become a manager in the Order without training; you have to believe, you have to have spiritual training. The managers of the future have to be trained. I would like the pilgrimage and the Jubilee to be an opportunity for reflection to encourage the admission and indication of men whom the Magistry needs for the future. The Order’s bodies have changed, we also have Council of Government and we have to find responsible people who can sit on it.

Thank you once again and I look forward to having the chance of meeting you again soon, perhaps in your offices. I hope that some seeds of this meeting will soon take root; but, above all, I hope that a large, luxuriant plant will grow in the Jubilee Year, bearing the fruit which will certainly be needed in the future to appease our hunger.

Thank you.



Roma. Villa Magistrale. I Membri del Consiglio Compito di Stato, dopo la Santa Messa nella Chiesa Magistrale di Santa Maria all’Aventino, si recano in processione nella Sala del Consiglio per l’Elezione  del 78° Principe e Gran Maestro, l’8 aprile 1988.

Rome. Magistral Villa. The Members of the Complete Council of State, after the Holy Mass in the Magistral Church of Santa Maria all’Aventino, go to the Council Hall for the election of the 78th Prince and Grand Master, on 8 April 1988.




 Roma. Palazzo Magistrale. S.A.Em.ma il Principe e Gran Maestro, Fra’ Andrew Bertie, ha ricevuto S.A.R. l’Herrenmeister dello Johanniterorden, il Principe Oskar di Prussia, in visita al Gran Magistero, il 18 e il 19 novembre 2000. Incontri di lavoro tra la Delegazione del Johanniterorden e i Membri del Sovrano Consiglio hanno avuto luogo al Palazzo Magistrale e alla Villa Magistrale all’Aventino, a conclusione dei quali il Gran Cancelliere, Amb. Conte Don Carlo Marullo di Condojanni, e il Cancelliere Hans Dieter von Meibon hanno sottoscritto un accordo di cooperazione per un’azione umanitaria congiunta.

Rome. Magistral Palace. H.M.E.H. the Prince and grand Master, Fra’ Andrew Bertie,received H.R.H. the Herrenmeister of the Johanniterorden, the Prince Oskar of Prussia, during a visit to the Grand Magistry, on 18 and 19 November 2000. Working meetings between the Delegation of the Johanniterorden and the Members of the Sovereign Council were held at the Magistral Palace and the Magistral Villa on the Aventine, at the end of which the Grand Chancellor, Amb. Count Don Carlo Marullo di Condojanni, and the Chancellor Hans Dieter von Meibon signed a cooperation agreement aimed at a joint humanitarian action.