The members of the Grand Magisterium gathered in Palazzo della Rovere, Rome, around the Grand Master, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, for the autumn session on 12 October, after a Mass in honour of Our Lady of Palestine celebrated in the church of Santo Spirito in Sassia and presided over by Cardinal Fortunato Frezza.
Before the convivial lunch, the Grand Master presented Cardinal Frezza - former Master of Ceremonies of the Grand Magisterium and appointed Cardinal by the Pope during the last consistory - with the insignia of Knight of the Grand Cross, warmly thanking him for his generous and appreciated service to the Order.
The working session of the Grand Magisterium opened in the afternoon and was addressed by the Governor General, Leonardo Visconti di Modrone and a read text from the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who was unable to attend in person. The meeting also heard from the Treasurer, Saverio Petrillo, and the Administrative Director of the Patriarchate, Sami El-Yousef. There reports were followed by a debate among the participants and the conclusions of Cardinal Fernando Filoni.
The Governor briefly recalled the highlights of 2022, such as the pilgrimage and first official visit of the Grand Master to the Holy Land, the resumption of meetings in presence on the occasion of the Investitures, and the meetings between the Lieutenancies after the pandemic. He particularly insisted on the presence of the Grand Priors at the Order's next Consultation, the General Assembly scheduled in a year's time, together with the Lieutenants, to deepen the theme of the spiritual formation of members. He also spoke of the work being carried out in the Palace, which will be taken over by a hotel company chosen to manage part of the building for the benefit of the Order and therefore of the Holy Land. Ambassador Visconti di Modrone also underlined the Order's recent development in Slovakia and plans for expansion in other countries, especially in Africa.
In his speech, Patriarch Pizzaballa thanked the Order, without which the Mother Church of Jerusalem could not live peacefully. He mentioned several pastoral projects that he considers important, including the pastoral centre for Galilee in Haifa and the next Vicariate to be created in Cyprus, where pastoral activity is growing.
The Grand Magiserium Treasurer presented the budget for 2023, confirming that €13.4 million will be paid to the Latin Patriarchate thanks to members' contributions. Sami El-Yousef stressed, on behalf of the Patriarchate, the importance of the Order's support to cover the salaries of 2000 employees of the Diocese of Jerusalem, Jordan, Palestine, Israel and Cyprus. He then illustrated the diocese's needs in the humanitarian field (due to the economic crisis and unemployment, especially in Palestine and Jordan) and again highlighted the priority of education, with the network of schools and universities that the Catholic Church must maintain.
The Governor General then gave the floor to the President of the Holy Land Commission, Bartholomew McGettrick, who last September led the Commission's first field trip in three years. He said that, in his opinion, some of the Lieutenancies have not yet grasped the urgency of the population in the Holy Land and that there is still much to be done to push donations from them.
After the debate that followed the various speeches and online exchanges (several members of the Grand Magisterium were in fact connected virtually), the Grand Master concluded the proceedings by insisting on the ecclesiological significance of support for the Holy Land, explaining that each member's contribution is first and foremost a gesture of love towards the Mother Church of Jerusalem, an expression of the profound faith of the Knights and Dames.
Cardinal Filoni's essential and fundamental text on this subject had just been published by L'Osservatore Romano - the official newspaper of the Holy See - with an announcement on the front page, after having been sent to all the Lieutenants and Magistral Delegates for transmission to the Priors, Grand Priors and all the bishops of the world.