“We are honoured by the decision of Pope Francis to appoint His Eminence Cardinal Gianfranco Ghirlanda as the Cardinalis Patronus of the Order of Malta.
“Cardinal Ghirlanda has played a pivotal role in the drafting of the new Constitution and Code of the Order and has devoted much time to ensuring the future well-being of our beloved Order. Together with Cardinal Silvano Tomasi, the pope’s Special Delegate, Cardinal Ghirlanda has lent invaluable assistance to the Order during the course of its renewal process,” commented the Grand Master, His Most Eminent Highness Fra’ John Dunlap.
Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Gianfranco Ghirlanda as the Order of Malta’s new Patronus on 19 June 2023. The Cardinalis Patronus has the task of promoting the spiritual interests of the Order and its members, as well as advancing the relations between the Holy See and the Order.
Cardinal Ghirlanda received a doctorate in jurisprudence from the University of Rome in 1966. In the same year he entered the Society of Jesus and completed his studies in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University. He was ordained a priest in 1973. He later obtained a degree and doctorate in canon law from the same University.
From 1975 he taught canon Law at the Institute of Religious Studies, the Faculty of Theology and the Faculty of Canon Law at the Pontifical Gregorian University where he would later become full professor. From 1995 to 2004, he was dean of the Faculty of Canon Law, and from 2004 to 2010, Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University.
Cardinal Ghirlanda has served the Holy See as consultant to various congregations and councils, including the Order of Malta during its renewal. He was proclaimed Cardinal by Pope Francis in the consistory of 27 August 2022.