The political situation in Libya is at the moment again deteriorating, and human trafficking as become a big business in Libya, and all of the parties in Libya, I think, are aware that this is an additional threat to the stability of the country. So on this issue they agree, but they are helpless to deal with it. Many migrants are held in detention centers, which recently someone compared to concentration camps. I've never been to one of those camps so I cannot judge by myself, but what we hear from the migrants we serve coming from Libya are terrible stories, so everything that can be done to mitigate the situation should be done. Even if the steps forward are very small, we should not give up and that's why we try now for the third time to convene a meeting with representatives from Libya and from other international organizations to start discussing what can be done to help. We are at the moment also giving training to the Libyan coast guard. That has been discussed in our ranks for long, because normally we are very hesitant to get directly involved in military or police actions, but giving training to these people who in the future will rescue people from the Mediterranean I think is necessary, and we hope that we can build trust toward the institution in Libya so in the future we may be able to help.
In the communique you guys sent out about the meeting it said some new collaborations were discussed. What would some of these collaborations look like?
We hope that in the not-too-far future security would allow us to go into Libya and to start medical care for migrants in Libya.
Moving to the topic of the spiritual reform the Order is currently undergoing, what would you say is the ultimate goal of this reform in light of everything that has happened?
I think starting with the term ecclesia semper reformanda, we need to start with the person, personal reform and reflection on our way all the time. I think in a bigger time, steps, also institutional reforms, have to be considered. So it's in this frame of permanent reflection; I think in Lent it's a good time to reflect on these things. We have to look at the recent crisis, try to access where institutional weaknesses were at the base of the crisis, so it was more personal controversies which caused the crisis, and to see where we can reform the order so that we can go forward with more strength to fulfill our mission. The Holy Father has put a special focus in his letter on the First Class of the order, so those are the members of the order who have professed the three vows. Unfortunately there are only a few in the order – this is a situation we are living with for more than 200 years, so that's not new for the order. And to see mainly what could be done or what's necessary to allow more vocations to the First Class.
So would you say this idea of ecclesia semper reformanda was perhaps what Pope Francis had in mind when he spoke of a specifically "spiritual" reform?
What are some of the current steps being taken as this reform takes place?
The next immediate step is to elect a new successor of Fra Matthew in just four weeks, so in a month. So that's where we concentrate on at the moment, to prepare this election. But we have already started to collect, just to collect from the order, from the membership, where they see a need for reform. We are not yet evaluating them, we are just assembling them and sorting them, and after the election we will first decide how to structure the process, which steps we take to organize the process and then start discussing issues of reform. This will take some time because we have to do it in great transparency, and transparency means communication and time so that nobody can have the impression that something is cooked in a secret kitchen.
Part of what was also mentioned in the Pope's letter was the need to re-visit specific parts of the order's constitution. What are the parts that might need to be changed or revised in some way?
It's a bit early to say exactly what will come out. As the Pope mentioned, specifically the First Class, maybe something needs to be changed there, but that's something especially the First Class members have to reflect on themselves, that's not our matter. The recent crisis has shown some weaknesses in the check and balances and the governance, so we have to look at governance issues and I'm pretty sure that we will have to do some reforms in this regard. And maybe we have also to look at issues of training and preparation of members in the different classes, to strengthen their background.
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Is there a specific outcome that you in your role as Grand Chancellor are hoping to achieve?
In my role as Grand Chancellor I see my duty to help moderate this process and trying to help to bring peace and unity in the order. So I will at the moment will help so that all these suggestions will be fairly considered and brought together, but not take a special direction, because I think that's not my role at the moment
Moving forward, what do you see your role as? Could you possibly be elected Grand Master at the Council Complete of State April 29?
That's fortunately impossible, because I am not a member of the First Class. The Grand Master has to be a member of the professed with solemn vows and the professed members of the order are the members who constitute the order as a religious order, and the head of the order has to be chosen from among them.
So you'll continue as you are then?
I think this special feature will not change.