Pope sacks Tagle, leadership of Caritas International

Robertzon Ramirez - The Philippine Star
Pope sacks Tagle, leadership of Caritas International
Pope Francis (R) thanks Philippine Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle after he addressed a message during a mass to mark 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines, on March 14, 2021 at St. Peter's Basilica in The Vatican.
AFP / Pool / Tiziana Fabi

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis sacked on Tuesday the entire leadership of Vatican-based Catholic charity network Caritas Internationalis, including its president Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, and appointed a temporary administrator after outside experts highlighted management and procedural “deficiencies.”

The surprise move, announced in a Vatican statement, removes the existing leadership of the organization, a federation of 162 Catholic relief, development and social organizations operating across 200 countries.

According to a decree issued by Francis, Tagle will remain working with the CI assisting newly appointed temporary administrator Pier Francesco Pinelli, a former renewable energy executive and Bain consultant trained by the Jesuits.

Among Pinelli’s jobs will be leading preparations for the next general assembly of all Caritas’ member organizations planned for May 2023, when a president, general secretary and treasurer will be elected.

The removal of CI’s entire leadership follows a review of the “workplace environment” of Caritas Internationalis by a panel of independent experts commissioned by the Vatican’s dicastery for promoting integral human development (DPIHD).

“No evidence emerged of financial mismanagement or sexual impropriety, but other important themes and areas for urgent attention emerged from the panel’s work,” the DPIHD said in a statement.

“Real deficiencies were noted in management and procedures, seriously prejudicing team-spirit and staff morale.”

The DPIHD declared there would be “no impact on the functioning of member organizations and the services of charity and solidarity they provide around the world.”

“On the contrary, it will serve to strengthen such service,” it said.

In a formal decree, Francis noted Caritas’ role in helping him in his “ministry toward the poorest and most needy,” but said its regulatory framework needed reviewing.

Caritas Internationalis had an income of more than five million euros ($5.13 million) in 2020, according to its annual report, almost half from membership fees and donations from member organizations, and the rest are contributions from external donors.

The Vatican said “financial matters have been well-handled and fundraising goals regularly achieved” but the aim now was to “improve its management norms and procedures.”

Tagle defends Pope

Meanwhile, Tagle, former Manila archbishop, has defended Francis’ decision to cut short his term as president of Caritas Internationalis.

In an article posted on the Vatican News, Tagle said the pope’s decision was a result of a “careful and independent study” and does not concern cases of sexual abuse or mismanagement of money, contrary to some reports.

He added that the decision was meant to be “a call to walk humbly with God” and “a process of discernment.”

“We have our temporary administrator. This news might be a bit disturbing or confusing to some of you. But rest assured that this decision of the Holy Father came after a careful and independent study of the working environment of the Secretariat and the governance exercised by responsible persons and bodies,” Tagle said.

Tagle made the remarks during the plenary meeting of Caritas Internationalis at the Villa Aurelia in Rome.

Tagle, prefect for the Congregation of the Evangelization of Peoples, was elected president of Caritas Internationalis in 2015 to serve until 2019.

He was reelected for the second and last term in 2019, which is supposed to last until May 2023.

Under the rules, Caritas presidents are entitled for two terms with four years each term.  – AFP

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