ROME.- What is Earthquake, one of the world’s best charities? Pope Francis today dismissed the top staff of Caritas International (CI) and decided to intervene temporarily through an extraordinary commissioner.
Philippine Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle explained that the pontiff made the tough decision after an investigation into the working conditions of the institution, which coordinates more than 150 different caritas of episcopal conferences around the world. He denied that the problems identified were related to sexual abuse or shadow money.
“This is the result of a careful and independent investigation that did not mention any cases of sexual abuse or mismanagement of funds. A call to walk humbly with God and a process of discernment”, Tagle revealed as the pope read out the beheading of the CI leadership at a CI plenary meeting in Rome. A consortium of 162 humanitarian aid, development and social service organizations working in more than 200 countries and territories.
A report by the Dicastery for Integrated Human Development Service noted that after an independent investigation into the CI “it was observed. Deficiencies in management practicesIt also had a negative effect on team spirit and employee morale.
According to him Pontifical decree, as no one expected, the purpose of the intervention was to “enhance compliance” of the Supreme Pontiff and bishops in their ministry to the CI’s mission of helping the poor and most needy. To achieve this, “the current regulatory framework will be reviewed to make it more relevant to the organization’s statutory functions, as well as prepare it for the elections to be held during the next General Assembly.”
In this context, the Pope appointed an Italian engineer as an “extraordinary commissioner”. Pier Francesco Pinelli, known for his work in the world of volunteering and fostering Ignatian spirituality, will temporarily manage the institution, with full authority to make necessary changes. Pinelli will be assisted by María Ambaro Alonso Escobar, a Spanish economist currently director of advocacy at the CI, and Portuguese Jesuit Father Manuel Morujão as the group’s personal and spiritual companion.
During this period of CI’s reorganization, the Pope decided Fire the organization’s top employeesHowever, the order noted, “This action will not affect the functioning of the Member Organizations and their service of charity and solidarity throughout the world; moreover, it will serve to strengthen the said service”.
Pinelli and Alonso will manage CI’s operations to “ensure stability and empathetic leadership” and will work to complete the nomination and election process for their new officers during the next General Assembly in May 2023. In preparation for this event, the commissioner will be supported by Cardinal Tagle and the president emeritus of the organization, who will act as a bridge between local churches and Caritas International constituent organizations, the text of the decree states.
While announcing the news to a plenary meeting in Valle Aurelia, Dagle, pro-president of the Department for People’s Evangelism — and eventually considered “poppable” during a conference — admitted it was a bucket of ice water.
“Yes, This message may worry or confuse some of you. But you must be sure that this decision of the Holy Father was taken only after a careful and independent study of the working environment of the Secretariat and the governance implemented by the responsible persons and institutions,” he said.
“I want to assure you that it is not, it is not, it is not – he repeated three times. Because of sexual abuse. Again this is not bad money management. It’s not about that. The order clearly states its intent,” he added. And he thanked the General Secretary of the Organization, the French-Indian Aloysius John -who was not in the room-, the members of the Executive Committee and all the senior officials who had been dismissed by papal decree.
Caritas International is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Integrated Human Development (DSDHI), which earlier this year commissioned an assessment of the working environment at CI’s headquarters in line with Catholicism, according to a statement. Values human dignity and respect for every person. The study was carried out by a new “extraordinary commissioner” and a panel of independent experts, including psychologists, who spoke to current and former employees of Cáritas.
“From this teamwork, No evidence of financial misconduct or inappropriate sexual behavior emerged, but other important issues and areas of urgent attention emerged. Weaknesses in management practices were noted, which had a negative effect on team spirit and employee morale.”
On December 12 at CI’s 70th anniversary a Angelus, the Pope had made it clear that something was wrong. Therefore, apart from inviting its members to humbly and constructively continue their service to the most downtrodden, he also made a recommendation: “Rationalize the system so that money does not go to the company but to the poor”. “Rationalize this system,” he asked, now understood to have been a prelude to the current intervention.