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Knights of Malta leader named for peace prize November 04, 2005

The grand master of the Knights of Malta, Fra Andrew Bertie, has been named to receive the Path to Peace award, conferred each year by a foundation that supports the work of the Vatican mission to the UN.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, who is the president of the Path to Peace Foundation as well as the Vatican's permanent representative at the UN, said that Fra Andrew Bertie was named for the award "in recognition of his exemplary charitable works."

The 76-year-old son of Scottish nobility, Andrew Willoughby Ninian Bertie was admitted into the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in 1956, and elected in April 1988 as the 78th grand master. Founded in the Holy Land during the Crusades, the Order of Malta was recognized by Pope Paschal II in 1113. The venerable Order, which now has 10,000 members active in 120 countries, has its headquarters in Rome. The Order of Malta enjoys international sovereignty, issues its own passports, has diplomatic relations with 93 countries, and enjoys permanent-observer status at the UN.

The function of the Order of Malta today is charitable activity. The Knights of Malta support 80,000 volunteers, including 10,000 doctors and other medical personnel, active in service to the sick in impoverished countries and the victims of warfare and natural disasters. Every year the Order arranges for the charitable donation of hundreds of tons of food, medicine, and other relief supplies.

The Path to Peace Foundation was set up in 1991 to support the Vatican mission to the UN and to promote Catholic social teaching. The foundation's annual award was presented last year to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State. In previous years it was given to President Xanana Gusmao of East Timor (2003), Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha of Bulgaria (2002), Prince Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein (2001), and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (2000). Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the previous UN secretary-general, received the prize in 1993. Other honorees have been Belgian King Baudoin I (posthumously), and the former presidents Corazon Aquino of the Philippines, Violetta Barrios Chamorro of Nicaragua, Rafael Caldera of Venezuela, Carlos Saul Menem of Argentina, and Lech Walesa of Poland.

The Path to Peace award will be formally presented by Archbishop Migliore at a ceremony in New York on November 9. Jean-Pierre Mazery, the grand chancellor of the Order of Malta, will accept the honor for the grand master.