By decree (motu_proprio/documents/20221121-decree-caritas-internationalis.html”>motu proprio) dated November 21 and released today in the Vatican, Pope Francis decided to remove all those responsible (president, vice-presidents, members, executive council, general secretary, treasurer and ecclesiastical assistant) of Caritas International (CI). and arranged a “temporary administration” headed by the Italian layman Francesco Pinelli as Extraordinary Commissioner in charge of the intervention, “with all the powers of government” which includes the power to repeal the statutes of the institution “if it considers it convenient or necessary”.
Caritas International is a confederation of 162 social assistance works of the Catholic Church distributed throughout the world, with a presence in 200 countries. According to its latest annual balance, Cáritas received 5.1 million euros and distributed 4.4 million euros in 2020. Francisco’s decree recalls that the task of Cáritas is assist “the poorest and most needyparticipating in the management of humanitarian emergencies and collaborating in the spread of charity and justice in the world in the light of the Gospel and the teachings of the Catholic Church”.
The Pope made the determination after an internal audit commissioned at the beginning of this year by the Dicastery (ministry) for the Integral Human Development Service (DSDH) the body that has all the powers over Caritas according to the new apostolic constitution Praise evangelium, which Jorge Bergoglio put into effect last June. The investigation, carried out by a team headed by Pinelli -now controller- and in which the psychologists Enrico Parolari and Francesca Busnelli participated, aimed to carry out an evaluation of “the work environment” in the General Secretariat, “in line with Catholic values of human dignity and respect for each person”. The main target was the general director Aloysius John, a native of India, elected to his position in 2019 and now removed from office. During the audit process, in addition to the authorities, a large part of the current and former employees of the Catholic organization were consulted.
In a statement that was released in parallel to the pontifical decree, the DSDH affirms that the investigation “no evidence emerged of financial mismanagement or inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature, but other important issues and areas of urgent attention were evident”. The same statement states that “deficiencies were observed in management procedures, which also had a negative effect on the spirit and morale of the staff.” As stated by the Vatican department, the pontifical decree “it has no impact on the functioning of the member organizations and on the charitable and supportive services they provide in the world” but “on the contrary, it will help to strengthen it” the statement highlights.
Francisco determined that for the best performance of his mission, “it seems necessary to review the current regulatory framework (of Cáritas) to adapt it to the statutory functions of the Entity, as well as prepare it for the elections that will be held during the next general assembly” . Everything is done, says the Pope, “with the firm will to favor the proposal for the renewal of the institution.”
Pinelli, the designated intervener, is an Italian engineer who has worked as a volunteer with people affected by drug addiction problems, he worked in development cooperation tasks, in catechism and in missionary works. In his task he will be accompanied by María Amparo Alonso Escobar, a Spanish economist graduated from the University of Extramadura (Spain) who has worked within Cáritas in his country and internationally in 14 African countries on human rights, development projects, communication and management. The ecclesiastical assistant of the intervention will be the Portuguese Jesuit priest Manuel Morujão, who also worked in Cape Verde and was a Jesuit superior in Portugal.