Francis also commented on the forthcoming election of the grand master, in whom, he said, “you will find a sure guide, a guarantor of the unity of the whole order in fidelity to the successor of Peter and the Church.”
Pope Francis also sent a written message to the Order of Malta on Jan. 25 at the opening of the extraordinary chapter general in which he referred to the group’s challenges during the last few years’ reform process.
The reform was a necessary, if at times “arduous,” journey, the pope said.
“Forgive the offenses!” he urged. “I heartily ask you to come to sincere mutual forgiveness, reconciliation, after the moments of tension and difficulties you have experienced in the recent past.”
He also encouraged the Order of Malta to strengthen its unity in order not to compromise the fulfillment of the group’s charitable mission.
“The Evil One” encourages division, he said. “Let us be careful not to compromise with the tempter, even unintentionally. He often deceives under the guise of good, and what may appear to be for the glory of God may turn out to be our own vainglory.”
“Conflicts and opposition harm your mission. Lust for power and other worldly attachments turn you away from Christ; they are temptations to be rejected,” Pope Francis said. “Let us remember the ‘rich young man’ in the Gospel, who, though moved by good intentions, failed to follow Jesus because he was attached to his own things and interests.”
The Order of Malta’s sovereignty must also be at the service of works of mercy, he said.
“It is necessary to be vigilant that it may not be distorted by a worldly mentality.”