CREDENTIALS OF AMBASSADOR OF MILITARY ORDER OF MALTA
VATICAN CITY, OCT 13, 1997 (VIS) - This morning the
Pope received the Letters of Credence of Stefan Falez, ambassador
of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. This order, according
to the Holy Father, has distinguished itself throughout the centuries
"by its defense of the faith - often to the point of the
supreme witness with blood - and charitable service."
"The defense of the faith is expressed today
above all in the witness to Christian truths through word and
deed. ... In this regard, I would like to entrust ideally to
all the members of the Order of Malta the 'Catechism of the Catholic
Church'." To defend the faith, he added, means to defend
values such as "the dignity of man, the nature of the family,
the fundamental right to life."
John Paul II referred to the order's initiatives
in the world: "They constitute, without a doubt, a valid
service to the needy and an effective witness of Christ, the
Good Samaritan of humanity. The Holy See supports these initiatives."
Lastly, the Holy Father expressed his gratitude
for what the Order of Malta has done and will do in the two centers
of the Jubilee - Rome and Jerusalem - at the service of pilgrims.
The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St.
John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta, better known as "the
Knights of Malta," was founded in 1099 during the Crusades
by Blessed Gerard, as a hostelry for pilgrims who traveled to
Jerusalem. It was approved as an order in 1113 by Pope Paschal
II, and was placed under the protection of the Holy See.
Faithful to its motto of defending Christianity
and protecting the poor, the order currently provides humanitarian
and social services in the Holy Land and in at least 100 other
countries, as it has done throughout the centuries. With its
see in Jerusalem until the end of the 13th century, the order
moved to Rhodes in 1308, where it remained until 1522, when it
was forced to flee. The Knights were given the island of Malta
in 1530, where they stayed until the end of the 18th century.
The order is distinct from the modern nation of the island of
CD/LETTERS CREDENCE/FALEZ:ORDER MALTA VIS 971013 (370)