© Guy Stair Sainty
Neck badge of a Knight of Justice, Obedience and Honor and Devotion
Badge of a Knight of Grace and Devotion
Badge of a Knight of Magistral Grace
Certain revisions to the Code are being considered and shall be on the agenda of the next Chapter-General meeting. The principle proposal for change is in the character and composition of the class of obedience. The class of obedience is likely to be opened up to knights (and possibly dames) of Magistral Grace and instead of being a separate class, members will be knights of Honor and Devotion, Grace and Devotion or Magistral Grace in Obedience. There is still considerable discussion as to the likely extent of these changes and whether the numerical restriction on the number of members in obedience will be maintained.
Members of Royal Families
The title of Bailiff grand cross of Honor and Devotion has, on rare occasions, been conferred on non-Catholics, most notably the late King Edward VII when Prince of Wales, the only British Prince to receive the cross of the Order; on several Czars of Russia and more recently on Prince Bernhard (and Queen Beatrix, appointed a dame) of the Netherlands, and the Grand Duke Wladimir Kyrillovich of Russia. The acceptance of the Cross of the Order by a reigning British Sovereign has not, unfortunately, persuaded the British Crown to formally recognize the Order, even in the form that it is recognized in France where its sovereignty is not acknowledged - indeed, a Catholic member of the British Royal Family probably would not be permitted to accept it today. All of Europe's Catholic sovereigns have the grand cross, sometimes with the "cross of profession ad honorem", as do the heads of many of the formerly regnant Catholic families as well as many Cardinals, who, by ancient tradition, may be admitted as Bailiff grand cross of Honor and Devotion without the need for proof of nobility.
The Lourdes Pilgrimage and the Responsibilities of Membership
The Order's National Associations function as semi-autonomous bodies, managing their own charitable, hospitaller and spiritual activities and some play a far more active role than others. However, once a year, the Order unites most of the European Associations, the three U.S. Associations and members from other Associations, at the Lourdes pilgrimage. The importance of this week in the spiritual life of the Order has been given increasing emphasis in recent years, particularly by the present Grand Master who has sought to concentrate the attention of all members on their duties to the sick - the principal justification for the Order's existence. Today most of the members are engaged in some kind of full-time employment and may not be able to participate in the various Masses and retreats organized during the year. The Lourdes pilgrimage has become the one occasion at which even those working members, from the great officers of the Order to the youngest knights and dames, along with associated volunteers, can take a week off and join together in a great spiritual renewal. The large number of often desperately ill and very courageous malades who are brought to Lourdes by the members, from as far afield as California, are very obviously a source of inspiration to the members and continue to encourage them to serve "Our Lords the Sick".
Unlike purely charitable institutions, the members of the Order of Malta have a very special and particular responsibility to "lead an exemplary Catholic life, and to follow the magisterium of the Church" (Grand Master Bertie, 21 April 1989). This duty and both the honor and obligations of membership require the Order, its knights, dames and donats, to provide an example of leadership, looking to the lives of those knights who sacrificed themselves in the service of Saint John over the last nine centuries. The eight-pointed white Cross is a badge of religion, distinguishing those who bear it as members of a religious Order of the Roman Catholic Church and, as such, confers a direct, personal responsibility. Recent events in Eastern Europe have left a moral vacuum and a potential breakdown of society which the Order of Malta, together with the Johanniter Order, is well-placed to counter. The Order, unlike many of the leaders of the Church, never compromised with the communist regimes and, with its long-standing historic connections in the countries concerned, is now in a position to embark upon a new mission, restoring civilized Christian values to these severely disrupted societies.
A deep religious commitment and extensive hospitaller and humanitarian activities, however, cannot be considered the only obligations of knights of Malta. The Order has always included the word "Military" in its title, and with good reason; in the words of a senior member of the British Association it is necessary "not only to support good works but to fight evil" and the Order is well placed to play an active leadership role not only on a local, national level but in the international sphere. While this does not, of course, require the Order to raise a military force, it may be considered to impose a duty to defend Christians persecuted for their faith. Among the present members may be counted some of the most influential citizens of those countries in which National Associations are incorporated, particularly in the United States, but as yet the Grand Magistery has not used the power that this powerful lobby confers to real political advantage. The Lebanon is an instance where the Order might use its considerable influence, but only one Association, the French, has acted directly to relieve the appalling suffering of the Christian minority and has actually had some success in persuading the French government to become involved. As secular and materialistic values continue to supplant the traditions of Christian civilization, it is all the more important that these traditions are defended by the most fortunate and privileged, whose conduct and attitudes may provide an example and inspiration to others.
The Order of Merit
In 1916 the then Grand Master founded an Order of Merit of the Order to reward members of the Grand Priory of Austria and Bohemia. This was later extended in 1928 and 1953 and since 30 June 1955 has been granted to non-Catholics. Many members believe that there is a case to be made for limiting the award of the Order of Merit to non-members, since every knight and dame of the SMHOM is obligated to serve the Order to the limit of their time and abilities and there is no reason to offer a further reward for such service in addition to promotion within the Order itself. Further reforms were made by a Grand Magisterial decree of 26 June 1964 (augmented by three further decrees in 1971, 1980 and 1981). Persons decorated with the Order Pro Merito Melitense as it is known, whether in the Civil or Military division, are not members of the Order of Malta although it is a decoration of the Order. 
 On their admission to the Order, all members other than donats are required to pay a sum of money as "passage money", which varies according to the rank in which the postulant is admitted - Magistral Grace knights give more than Honor or Grace and Devotion knights. From the time of the Crusades, when knights were admitted to the Order, they were expected to pay for a horse and the necessary military equipment and pay a sum of money to ensure their passage into the Order - this money would provide funding for the Order's activities. This practice has been continued and, after their candidature has been approved, new members make a donation which, for knights and dames of Magistral Grace, has been set for some years at US $1,500. In some associations a sum in addition to the passage money is required which goes to finance the work of that particular association; in the Western Association of the SMHOM, for example, the amount of $2,500 is given (making a total of $4000).
 The 1986 Roll lists eleven bailiffs of Justice.
 There are no bailiffs jus patronatus in the 1986 Roll, although the Baliaggio Borbone last enjoyed by Count Don Alfredo Lucchesi Palli, Prince of Campofranco, who died in 1986, may well be reinvested. The title of Bailiff jus patronatus was last granted in 1958 to Ambassador Giacinto Auriti (a grand cross of Magistral Grace), who had founded a commandery in that year, and who died in 1969 without leaving any heirs.
 The most recent such commandery to be founded was instituted by the late Prince Nicholas Tchkotoua and, since 1985, has been held by his son. The number of commanders has declined dramatically this century; the 1895 Roll lists a total of forty-five professed commanders (ten in the Grand Priory of Rome, eight in Lombardy-Veneto, twelve in the Two Sicilies and fifteen in Bohemia and Austria), five commanderies enjoyed by Conventual Chaplains (two in Rome and one each in the other Grand Priories) and thirty-three commanderies jus patronatus (including one Scottish Magistral commandery, Monteith of Carstairs). The 1938 Roll listed a total of eleven professed commanders and twenty-eight commanders jus patronatus, of whom all but two were Italian, the others being each Polish and British (the Magistral commandery of Monteith of Carstairs). The 1968 Roll listed eight professed commanders and sixteen jus patronatus commanders, and the 1986 Roll two professed commanders and eleven jus patronatus commanders, all of them Italian.
 The obligations of profession are outlined in Chapter Five of the Code, articles 98-102. These articles required that the Professed, "always mindful of their high vocation and of the obligations they have freely assumed towards the Church and the Order, must govern their life in the spirit of the Gospel....". They are required to attend daily Mass, and receive the Sacraments frequently, take part in an annual course of spiritual exercises and complete five days of retreat in a religious house or monastery. They are permitted to practice a profession or accept public office with the permission of their Superior.
 Knights in simple vows may enjoy the usufruct of their property; upon making profession they compose their Will bequeathing their property but may retain sufficient to cover ordinary living expenditure in accordance with their social position, for future necessities and for the payment of an annual sum for the Hospitaller work of the Order; any excess in income must be donated for the Hospitaller works of the Order.
 The 1895 Roll lists a total of forty-six fully professed knights of Justice; the 1938 Roll a total of twenty-four professed knights, the 1968 Roll a total of twenty-three and the 1986 Roll a total of twenty-four professed knights (a number which has happily risen since).
 If there are a sufficient number (a minimum of nine) knights of Obedience and at least one professed knight, a National Sub-Priory may be formed with the permission of the Sovereign Council (as in Great Britain, Germany and Spain). These Sub-Priories are quasi-autonomous, having a Regent (responsible directly to the Grand Commander rather than the National President) and their own Chancellor and Secretary and finances and may encompass more than one Association (as in Germany). The structure and membership has sometimes resulted in an uneasy relationship with the local Associations as the authority of the National Presidents over the members of the Sub-Priory may be restricted. The limitation of the class of Obedience to members of the noble categories and the elevation of members of this class who had joined in the rank of Grace and Devotion above those of Honor and Devotion, has been criticized by some. When the class "of Obedience" was introduced many members felt that it should have been "in" rather than "of", and that the members should have retained the decoration and precedence of their class of entry with the cross of Obedience as the only special distinction marking the promise they had made. This would have meant that there would never be a question of promotion above the knights of Honor and Devotion being a factor when knights were considering undertaking the obligations of Obedience and thus no good reason to object to the Magistral Grace knights making the promise. Furthermore there is little logic in opening up the class of Justice to non-noble knights while restricting that of Obedience. According to the 1986 Roll there were then 151 living members of the class of Obedience, of whom 39 had been promoted from Grace and Devotion. In the last four years this number has been considerably augmented and the proportion of members promoted directly from Grace and Devotion has increased.
 He is required to say a daily Credo and one Pater Noster, Ave Maria and Gloria; attend Mass frequently and complete at least three days of spiritual exercises.
 The Code requires that all members of the third class " shall conduct their lives in such a way as to give a Christian example both privately and publicly, thus contributing to the Christian Witness of the tradition of the Order. It is especially incumbent on these members to collaborate effectively in the Hospitaller and Social Works of the Order itself."
 The Grand Master's motu proprio authority to exempt a candidate from the full rigor of noble proofs also extends to the right to admit a number of knights on his own authority, but only after previously informing the Sovereign Council and the President of the relevant National Association.
 The annual oblation required of each knight and dame varies according to the Association and is perceived as a minimum (in the Western Association, for example, it is $800 per annum).
 The last occasion on which a "knight of Justice in minority" was admitted was on 31 May 1951 when the sixteen year-old Count Franz-Alfred von Hartig, now a knight of Obedience, was accorded membership of the Order. Only in the Austrian Grand Priory (in which there are ten) and the Silesian Association (in which there is one) are there any living knights who were admitted as "knights of Justice of minority".
 It is given in three classes, firstly the single grade of Collar, secondly the Cross, given in six grades (grand cross - Special Class, grand cross, Grand Officer, commander, Officer and Cross) and, thirdly, the Medal of Merit, given in three grades (Gold, Silver and Bronze). Priests and other Religious may receive the cross per pis meritis but only in the grades of grand cross or Cross. The cross Pro Merito Melitense is given by Motu Proprio of the Grand Master and recommendations to the Grand Master may be made by the high officers of the Order, Grand Priors, Priors, the heads of Diplomatic Missions of the Order, the Presidents of National Associations and the Prelate of the Grand Magistery.