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Msgr. Peter Beer addresses Knights of Malta ambassadors

Msgr. Peter Beer, head of Research and Development at the Institute of Anthropology (IADC), addressed some 100 ambassadors of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta on January 26. 

Msgr. Beer was among the speakers invited to the Jan. 25-27 Conference. According to the Knights of Malta, the three-day meeting was “an opportunity to examine, with the input of numerous authoritative guests, some strategic themes for the Order of Malta’s centuries-old spiritual and humanitarian mission, spelt out in the motto Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum – to bear witnessto the faith and to serve the disadvantaged.”

In his address, Msgr. Beer reflected on the theme of “Protection and Safeguarding of the Most Vulnerable,” which he said was a “key issue,” particularly within the Catholic Church. 

Although there is much work to be done, he said, there are many within the church who, in light of this challenge, have “stood on the side of the weak, driven by faith, love and hope.” 

“The great history of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) bears eloquent witness to this. This service is part of the nature of the Church and is entrusted to it by our Lord Jesus Christ himself,” he said. 

Msgr. Beer also highlighted the suffering of abuse victims “not only from the actions of the perpetrators, but also from the behavior of the cover-ups, (from those) who do not believe them or listen to them, who want to silence them and marginalize them.”

Thus, “it is not surprising “that the church as a whole is losing credibility and trust, authority and acceptance in many respects.”

Therefore, the Catholic Church as a whole must ensure that victims and survivors “are recognized, that they are given space and attention and that everything is (being) done to ensure that the church is generally a safe place.”

“This means working towards active safeguarding in the church's area of responsibility and, where appropriate, beyond this in the sense of acting as a role model for others and ultimately also as a prophetic act of the church towards society,” he said. 

Recalling the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Institute of Anthropology and the Knights of Malta, Msgr. Beer said the agreement was an important step toward protecting the most vulnerable and preventing abuse through formation, education and support. 

“Safeguarding and the protection of vulnerable people are not a sprint, but a marathon,” he said. “Together, we can then also succeed in realizing the positive vision behind all measures of safeguarding and protection of vulnerable people: the Church as a whole is a safe space for all those who need and want protection.”