On November 7 and 8, the “Complete” Council of State, that is, the electoral body of the Order of Malta met at the Magistral Villa in Rome, one of the two institutional seats of the Order, to replace the Grand Master who died last April 29.
Pope Francis appointed Cardinal-elect Silvano Tomasi to the post of Special Delegate of the Holy See to the Order on November 1, to ensure the presence of a member of the hierarchy during the election. This vote was to designate the successor of Fra Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, 80th Grand Master, who died on April 29, 2020.
44 participants, out of 56 eligible, were present in Rome. They elected Fra Marco Luzzago, aged 70. But since the voters had the option of electing a Grand Master, they could also choose to elect a Lieutenant of the Grand Master, which they preferred to do.
Unlike the Grand Master, elected for life, a Lieutenant only remains in office for one year, but with the same powers as a Grand Master. He must reconvene the Complete Council of State before the end of his term for a new election. He resides at the headquarters of the Order in Rome.
One reason may explain the election of a Lieutenant: the fact that, according to the current constitutions of the Order, the Grand Master must be of noble extraction, which is not obligatory for the Lieutenant. The number of candidates with this quality is currently reduced. This obligation is one of the points which should be modified by the reform.
Or did this election want to avoid an increased polarization between the two tendencies which currently divide the Order: the religious tendency, which takes a dim view of the reforms promoted by Pope Francis, and which fears that the religious aspect is seriously suffering; and the “secular” tendency, eager to see these reforms accomplished, and aspiring to a “modernization” of the Order?
Limiting this term to one year, while fully respecting the constitutions, would be a sign of this. However, the newly elected representative promised his “maximum commitment to face the challenges that await us in the coming months. In the first place, the reform of the Constitutional Charter and of the Code, strongly led by our late Fra Giacomo, towards which my thoughts are going at this moment.”
Hope remains that this reform will not take the form of a destructive aggiornamento of the traditions of the Order, as has been the case with all religious societies affected by this tornado of novelty since the Second Vatican Council.