Pope Francis named Fra' John T. Dunlap to lead the international humanitarian religious order.
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Canadian-born Fra’ John T. Dunlap has been appointed Lieutenant to the Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta by Pope Francis himself, the Order announced in a statement on June 13, 2022. He takes over the leadership of the Catholic religious order, left vacant after the unexpected death of the previous Lieutenant, Fra’ Marco Luzzago, on June 7.
Pope Francis explained in his letter of appointment that in the face of this “new moment of disarray and uncertainty” – this is the third death of a leader of the Order in three years – he had decided to appoint a new leader directly in order to “accelerate the process of reform” underway. Only the completion of this process, entrusted by the pontiff to his personal delegate, Cardinal Silvano Tomasi, should allow the re-establishment of an “ordinary administration” under the direction of a Grand Master.
Fra’ John T. Dunlap is appointed Lieutenant of the Grand Master and not Grand Master, an interim position provided for in the Order’s constitutions but usually valid for only one year, H.E. Dominique Prince de La Rochefoucauld-Montbel, Grand Hospitaller of the Order, told I.MEDIA. The need to advance the reform of the Order, however, had led to the extension of the mandate of his predecessor Fra’ Marco Luzzago beyond one year, and Fra’ John T. Dunlap should also remain in office “until the reform is completed.”
“It is a question of avoiding that it takes ten years as it was the case in 1997”, explains the member of the High Council. This is not the first time that a pope has chosen to ignore the statutes and appoint the head of the Order of Malta, he said, recalling that this was already necessary in the 19th century.
The Frenchman considers that this appointment was “necessary” because of the lack of candidates who meet the criteria set out in the constitution and the need to move forward with the constitutional reform. In its statement, the Order said it was “grateful” to the pontiff for his “fatherly concern”.
The first professed American member
Fra’ John Dunlap, 65, is to be sworn in at the Church of St. Mary on the Aventine before Cardinal Silvano Tomasi and the Order’s senior staff on June 14, just after the solemn funeral of Fra’ Marco Luzzago. A lawyer by training, Dunlop is a specialist in corporate and immigration law and was for many years the legal adviser to the Holy See in its permanent observer mission to the United Nations in New York.
Admitted to the Order of Malta in 1996, he became the first American member of the Order to take solemn vows in 2008. Since 2009, he has been a member of the Order’s Sovereign Council and served as chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Names and Emblems and representative to the Alliance of the Orders of St. John.