The Order Today
The Order’s aims are:
- To strengthen in its members the practice of Christian life, in absolute fidelity to the Supreme Pontiff and according to the teachings of the Church, observing as its foundation the principles of charity which make the Order a fundamental means of assistance to the Holy Land;
- To sustain and aid the charitable, cultural and social works and institutions of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, particularly those of and in the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, with which the Order maintains traditional ties;
- To support the preservation and propagation of the Faith in those lands, and promote interest in this work not only among Catholics scattered throughout the world, who are united in charity by the symbol of the Order, but also among all other Christians;
- To uphold the rights of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.
The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is the only lay institution of the Vatican State charged with the task of providing for the needs of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and of all the activities and initiatives to support the Christian presence in the Holy Land. The contributions made by its members are therefore the Patriarchal institutions’ main source of funding.
Structure of the Order
The Order has a definite hierarchy. At the top is the Cardinal Grand Master who is appointed directly by the Holy Father, to lead and govern the Order. The Grand Master is assisted by a consultative body, the Grand Magisterium, whose task is to identify and agree with the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem on the programs and action to be undertaken each year to provide for the Christian institutions and communities in the Holy Land, including the operating methods and timescales.
The Presidency of the Grand Magisterium consists of the Governor General, the Vice-Governors General and the Chancellor of the Order: this is the Order’s executive “board”.
The hierarchy then divides into two distinct parts: ecclesiastic and lay. The first, headed by the Chancellor and the Ceremonial Officer, is responsible for the Order’s spiritual development; the second, headed by the Governor General, is responsible for managing the Order.
The task of the ecclesiastical hierarchy is to define programs and events to be put in place to develop Members’ spirituality. The task of the lay hierarchy is to carry out the Order’s social and charitable activities on behalf of the Holy Land.
The Order is subdivided into Lieutenancies, which in turn are divided into Sections. If appropriate, the Sections may be further divided into Delegations.
The Lieutenant, Section Heads and Delegates (responsible for the Delegations) are accompanied by a parallel ecclesiastical organization consisting of Section and Delegation Priors.
All these roles are functional, involving administrative responsibilities; they are not honorary titles. The term of office is four years, which may be renewed, subject always to the holder carrying out his/her tasks correctly and effectively.
Suitable candidates for each post are suggested by the immediate superior and submitted to those in higher positions and the Grand Magisterium for final approval.
The Order currently has 65 Lieutenancies including 24 in Europe, 15 in North America, 5 in Latin America and 6 in Australia and the Far East.
At present, the number of active Members is around 30.000. These are the Members who actually practice the life dedicated to service and charity which they promised to uphold when they were admitted to the Order.