In his opening remarks, Fra’ Nicola Tegoni elaborated on how the defining features of racism and xenophobia contradict the fundamental values of the Order of Malta and Catholicism. He poignantly contrasted the principles of cooperation, inclusion and human dignity with the false and malevolent beliefs of racists. He concluded this line of thought by highlighting Pope Francis’s words in the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti.
Fra’ Nicola went on to describe the experiences of migrants and refugees who, often involuntarily, leave their homes only to face racism, xenophobia, discrimination, and intolerance in their host countries, instead of the support they need. He pointed out that the marginalization they encounter, serves as a central motivator for the altruistic work carried out by the Order. Our goal is to uphold their dignity by safeguarding their health and providing them with access to proper nutrition, clean water, and hygiene.
Fra’ Tegoni then highlighted the Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem as an exemplar of our non-discriminatory operational principles. He underscored our project there as a place where Christians, Jews, and Muslims collaborate daily to aid families in need, irrespective of religion, ethnicity, or their ability to pay. He concluded his statement by commending the Durban Declaration’s recognition of the role religion plays in promoting the inherent dignity and worth of every individual and in eradicating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance. He also emphasized the necessity for accompanying legislation and administrative infrastructure to strengthen its implementation.