"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests." (Luke 2,14)
1st December 2014
Dear Dames and Confreres,
We live in troublesome times. From many parts of the world we receive almost daily perturbing news. The situation in Middle East is especially of great concern to us. Thousands of Christians are persecuted and have had to leave their homes. The oldest Christian settlements, where Christianity has been present almost since the times of the Apostles, are left without inhabitants. In October, I visited the Lebanon and have seen the admirable work the Association there is carrying out under troublesome circumstances in continuing their assistance to the disadvantaged in their own society and now in addition to the many refugees from Syria and Iraq. They do this in remarkable cooperation with the Muslim community and communities of other denominations. Malteser International also is very active in assisting refugees at the Syrian border with Lebanon and Turkey, and in Northern Iraq. Our hospital in Bethlehem continues to flourish and is extending its services with new outreach-programs and new fields of care. It remains a haven of peace and hope in a land of conflict and despair.
Through these actions and many others around the globe we strive not only to assist people in need but also to promote "the world's peace" as we say daily in our prayer of the Order of Malta. I urge you not to cease working and praying for this peace.
Please consider generously the different Christmas appeals for donations for our international works of the Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem and Malteser International.
Another troubling development is the ever-increasing stream of refugees and migrants all over the world. It is our mission to assist them, to welcome them and to be advocates for them. I thank the Priories and Associations, which are extending their assistance to these often severely traumatized people. You may be interested to learn that the Order's "Global Fund for Forgotten People" has succeeded in assisting many of these initiatives.
Let me end this letter with my best wishes for a peaceful Christmas for you, your families and friends, a peace that I hope may extend to your community and the world to the Glory of God.
Fra' Matthew Festing