An interview with the Lieutenant General, Professor Agostino Borromeo, who coordinated the 2018 Consulta and who read the final report of the five-year assembly, which will be summarized and published in excerpts in coming issues.
Professor Borromeo, can you give an overview of the recently held Consulta?
My initial observation is that the mechanisms and methodology used for the work of the Consulta have borne abundant fruit and what we have done in these days is of considerable importance. Our work took place in an atmosphere of authentic fraternity. As members of the Order, we feel part of a single extended family all over the world and treat each other as brothers and sisters. The interchange of experiences has shown us once more the vitality of our Order. The Order is a reality in which members can also disagree but without ever losing the familial character. This aspect of fraternity is certainly important beyond all concrete results that are nevertheless positive.
The participants of the Consulta based their work on an Instrumentum Laboris produced by the commission that you directed. What were the main chapters submitted to the attention of Lieutenants and Magistral Delegates?
The Instrumentum Laboris aimed at helping the participants in the Consulta reflect on the theme of “The role of the Lieutenant in the mission of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem” was sent in advance so that the heads of the peripheral structures of the Order gathered in Rome during our assembly could study it and begin to prepare their observations, corrections and additions to be discussed in the three planned working groups. Among the topics dealt with was the appointment and primary tasks of the Lieutenant; collaboration with the Grand Prior of Lieutenancy; relations with the Grand Magisterium, in addition to those with the Sections, Delegations and members; recruitment of new members; right up to the end of their mandate and the identification of a successor.
During the working sessions the idea of having a “Lieutenant’s Manual” was often mentioned. What would it entail?
The need for a “Lieutenant’s Manual” was widely expressed, and we will work to this end. However, the document that will emerge from our discussions will not address all of the issues presented. This because in some cases the proposals put forward belong to the regulatory sphere, which is not the competence of such a manual. From a legislative standpoint, reference must be made to the Constitution or existing regulation that establishes norms for particular matters. The manual, on the other hand, wishes to collect those traditions, which, although not definitively codified, nevertheless constitute a practice transmitted orally by Lieutenant to Lieutenant. Where there are traditions that have borne fruit, there is no reason to eliminate them. The Lieutenant’s Manual will therefore be a guide created thanks to the contribution of the concrete experiences, on the ground, of the Lieutenants; it will not be the seat where new rules are established.
Can you outline some of the themes that emerged during discussions among the Lieutenants?
The centrality of the spiritual dimension in the life of the Lieutenancy clearly emerged. The spiritual guide of the Lieutenancy is exclusively the Prior but, at the same time, it is evident that in order to carry out the initiatives proposed by him, the Lieutenant must implement all the forces that allow the Grand Prior to exercise his spiritual and religious functions. Another of the issues that the Lieutenants emphasized was that of the relations between Lieutenancies and the Grand Magisterium. There are certainly ways to develop communications, which are often complicated by the amount of information that is exchanged.
Another of the aspects that requires further work is the handing over phase to new Lieutenants so that they can begin the operational aspect of their mandate with previous issues in mind. The Lieutenants have also shown interest in the subject of disciplinary sanctions in order to have a common way of responding to the different situations that can be created within the peripheral structures of the Order. There was also talk of formation courses for new Lieutenants or the possibility of a period of support from the outgoing Lieutenant. Finally, many have shown interest in the question of young members: how to invite them and how to make their entry into the Order easier even from a concrete point of view.
The Grand Master specifically tasked you with the organization of the Consulta. Now that it has concluded, what message would you like to give to participants?
First of all, I would like to assure those involved that all the requests made will be carefully examined and, as far as possible, integrated into a document. Secondly, I would like to remind everyone that the manual that we will produce will be a document that can be continually updated and improved: all criticisms and observations will therefore be welcome. Finally, on behalf of the commission responsible for drafting the text, I wanted to thank all the participants for their commitment. Visiting the various working groups, I had the opportunity to witness peaceful but passionate confrontations and this is the sign that our discussion touches things we believe in, which we hold dear and to which we commit our time and energy convinced of our call and mission as Knights and Dames of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.
Interview by Elena Dini