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Address of the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Order of Malta



The Grand Master Fra’ John Dunlap today held the Audience of the beginning of the year with the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The Audience took place in the Magistral Villa in Rome.

His Excellency Antoine Zanga, Ambassador of Cameroon, gave the following address.

Most Eminent Highness,

I am particularly grateful to have the privilege of taking the floor at this ceremony to address you on behalf of the entire diplomatic corps accredited to your illustrious institution. But first of all, let me perform the pleasant duty of warmly and solemnly congratulating you on your election to the highest office of Prince and 81st Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta on 3 May 2023. We wish you every success in carrying out your distinguished missions.

Most Eminent Highness,

This ceremony, albeit very traditional, is far from a conventional routine. Because it is an occasion for us to reaffirm the unwavering ties that happily exist between the Sovereign Order of Malta and our respective nations. It is also an opportunity for diplomatic representations to be kept informed and to appreciate our partner’s immense and intense activity that has become inevitable in terms of humanitarian diplomacy, thanks in particular to its status as a neutral, apolitical and independent institution. Also, and especially, thanks to its expertise in emergency response and its vocation to provide support to those who need it.

Throughout the past year your organization has remained faithful to its founding principles, summarized in the motto “Tuitio Fidei and Obsequium Pauperum”, nourishing, witnessing and protecting the faith, as well as serving the poor and the sick. To continue these missions, you have been preparing by holding an extraordinary Chapter General and you can now look towards a future full of hope. Congratulations to the new Sovereign Council elected during these meetings. Likewise, we welcome the Holy Father’s appointment of his Eminence Cardinal Gianfranco Ghirlanda as Cardinalis Patronus and that of Monsignor Luis Manuel Cuña Ramos as the Order’s new Prelate. Not forgetting the appointment of Ambassador Giampaolo Cantini as the Order’s new Secretary General of Foreign Affairs.

Most Eminent Highness,

Year in, year out, you look after the homeless who live on the margins of the cities, you assist refugees arriving on European shores, you provide first aid and organise health and social care for victims of natural disasters and of conflicts worldwide. Your initiatives for victims of the war in Ukraine, support after the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as your ongoing projects such as hospitals and mobile clinics, have placed the Order on the front line of humanitarian interventions in 2023. You have also continued your programmes against infectious diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and leprosy in various parts of the world. When facing the current international challenges, the Order of Malta is constantly committed, in the United Nations and major international organizations, to making its voice heard on crucial issues such as poverty reduction, healthcare, humanitarian aid, emergency relief, promotion of sustainable development, human trafficking, migration and refugees as well as inter-faith dialogue. This commitment is universally recognized. This year, the Sovereign Order of Malta’s first World Day was celebrated on 14 October in a dozen countries. We believe that the group of nations will be larger next year.

The organization is constantly consulted by the major authorities. Often you have taken the message yourself when necessary or you have had it delivered. For example, there are your official visits to the President of the Italian Republic and to the Republic of Malta. Also noteworthy are the Grand Chancellor’s speeches at the United Nations Security Council in New York, the 52nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council and the FAO Food Summit. The Grand Hospitaller’s working visits to the Republic of Cameroon, to Lebanon, to Spain, to the Republic of Uganda and the Republic of South Sudan, as well as participation in the 76th World Health Assembly were all occasions for the Order to promote justice and peace.

At the same time, throughout the year we have witnessed an intense diplomatic activity at the Magistral Palace with illustrious visits of high-ranking figures such as:

  • the President of the Republic of Paraguay
  • the President of the National Council of the Slovak Republic
  • the Prime Minister of Lebanon
  • the Prime Minister of Ukraine
  • the Deputy Prime Minister of Hungary
  • the Speaker of the Senate of Canada
  • the President of the National Assembly of Bulgaria
  • the Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania
  • the Foreign Ministers of the Italian Republic, Costa Rica, The Gambia, Panama, Paraguay, Armenia and El Salvador.
  • the Minister of Health of the Republic of Armenia
  • the Italian Minister of Defence

The diplomatic network has been expanded with the opening of diplomatic relations between the Sovereign Order of Malta and the Republic of The Gambia. Our diplomatic family has grown with the presentation of credentials by their Excellencies the Ambassadors of the Republic of Cape Verde, the Principality of Monaco, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Lithuania, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Republic of El Salvador and the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Republic of Costa Rica, the Federative Republic of Brazil and the Republic of Bulgaria. Let me welcome their Excellencies.

I cannot end my speech without mentioning, to encourage them, the communication initiatives addressed to the diplomatic corps through conferences with ambassadors and diplomatic representatives of the Asian and African continents to describe the mission, the institutional commitments, the dimension of diplomacy and the main humanitarian challenges of the Sovereign Order of Malta and that for the delegates of the heads of mission on the issues of the humanitarian activities among which the Order of Malta operates.

Most Eminent Highness,

Activity in 2024 will be just as intense as the year that has just ended. For this you will need to be in top form. To this end, through my modest voice, the Diplomatic Corps wishes you and all the Order’s members and volunteers the warmest wishes for the New Year.

Thank you

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta - Canadian Association

Email: executivedirector@orderofmaltacanada.org, Telephone: (613) 731-8897