Election of the Grand Master taking place on 3 May 2023
The Council Complete of State has been convened for 3 May 2023. It is tasked to elect the next Grand Master, the first after the promulgation of the new Constitutional Charter and Code. The convocation was made by letter – jointly signed by Fra’ John T. Dunlap, Lieutenant of the Grand Master, and by Cardinal Silvano M. Tomasi c.s., Special Delegate of the Holy Father – specifying that the Council Complete will be preceded, on 2 May, by the meeting of the Chapter of the Professed.
According to Article 32 of the Constitution of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the only task of the Council Complete of State is to elect the Grand Master or, alternatively, a Lieutenant of the Grand Master (with the same powers as the Grand Master, but who remains in office for a maximum of one year). The Council Complete has no other functions.
The election will take place in Rome in the Magistral Villa, the institutional seat of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The Villa enjoys the right of extraterritoriality, guaranteed by the Italian Republic.
The Chapter of the Professed will meet in the Magistral Villa on 2 May. It will draw up, on the basis of a secret ballot, the binding list of three candidates for the election of the Grand Master to be presented to the Council Complete of State the following day. Just under 100 participants with voting rights will take part. An absolute majority of the votes of those present is required to elect the Grand Master.
As stated in Article 13 of the new Constitution, ‘the Grand Master is elected for a period of ten years or until his eighty-fifth birthday (…)’ by the Council Complete of State. The person elected must be a Professed Knight of Solemn Vows. For Professed Knights over fifty years of age and members of the Order for at least ten years, three years of Solemn Vows are sufficient. If under fifty years of age, the Professed Knight must have at least ten years of Solemn Vows.
At the end of his tenure, the Grand Master may be reconfirmed once for another ten-year term.
The noble requirements of the previous Constitution are no longer necessary.
The person elected to the office of Grand Master shall communicate the Holy Father of his election “in a letter written in his own hand”. After receiving the Holy Father’s confirmation, the new Grand Master – the 81st in the Order of Malta’s 900-year history – will take the oath in the hands of the Cardinal Special Delegate in the Church of Santa Maria in Aventino, thus taking office.
According to Article 12 of the Constitution, the Grand Master is the head of the Order and he is entitled to sovereign prerogatives and honours as well as the title of Most Eminent Highness. He must devote himself entirely to the growth of the Order’s works and serve as an example of true Christian life to all Members (Art. 106 of the Code).
The Grand Master, together with the Sovereign Council, is responsible for issuing legislative measures not provided for in the Constitutional Charter, promulgating government acts and ratifying international agreements. He administers, through the Receiver of the Common Treasure, the Order’s assets and convenes the Chapter of the Professed and the Chapter General.
The States with which the Sovereign Military Order of Malta maintains diplomatic relations grant the Grand Master the prerogatives, immunities and honours due to Heads of State.
The Grand Master resides at the seat of the Order, the Magistral Palace in Rome.