By a decree published on November 22, 2022, Pope Francis appointed Dr. Pier Francesco Pinelli, an Italian layman, as temporary administrator of Caritas Internationalis to ensure the ad interim direction of the confederation of 162 charitable works of the Church, based in the Vatican and present in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide, Vatican News reported.
The decree also states that those serving as president, vice-presidents, general secretary, treasurer and ecclesiastical assistant “shall cease from their respective offices.” This includes Aloysius John, secretary general of Caritas Internationalis since May 2019. The new ad interim management is ensured until the general meeting of May 11 to 16, 2023, with a view to revising the statutes of the confederation. The general assembly will provide for the election of the president, the secretary general, and the treasurer.
Until then, Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the president who’s leaving [more exactly: has left] Caritas Internationalis and prefect of the Dicastery for the Evangelization of Peoples, will be responsible for assisting the extraordinary commissioner and overseeing relations with the local Churches and member organizations of the confederation.
This decision was taken following an audit carried out this year within Caritas Internationalis “on the organization and well-being at work,” specifies the press release. An investigation commissioned by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development which, according to the new apostolic constitution Prædicate Evangelium which came into force in June 2022, has full jurisdiction over Caritas Internationalis.
The press release announces the appointment, with immediate effect, of a triumvirate made up of two lay people and a Jesuit. Dr. Pier Francesco Pinelli will be assisted by Dr. Maria Amparo Alonso Escobar, currently serving as Head of Advocacy [i.e., influencer with institutions and politicians] at Caritas.
She previously worked for more than 28 years at the service of the underprivileged, volunteering in Europe, North America, Africa, and Latin America. From 2016 to 2020, she was director of the permanent office of Caritas Internationalis at the United Nations in Geneva, working on international relations and multilateral affairs. Fr. Manuel Morujão, S.J. will be responsible for the personal and spiritual accompaniment of the staff.
The objective of this supervision of Caritas is “to improve the framework more appropriate to the statutory functions of the organization,” explains the decree, which specifies that the investigation by the independent commission did not reveal “poor financial management or behavior of a sexual nature,” but “shortcomings relating to management procedures with negative effects on team spirit and staff morale.”
Nico Spuntini specifies on La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana on November 24 that “behind the official language of the press release, the content of the decree explains that there would be the ascertainment of cases of bullying. At least that's what an inside source claims who spoke to Reuters of ‘verbal abuse, favoritism, and mismanagement in human resources that led to staff leaving.’”
He goes on to point out that such a decision “could reduce Tagle's chances in a future conclave, if interpreted as a sign of distrust by the current pontiff of his Asian ‘dolphin.’”
And he concludes that “in his style of government, Francis has shown that he does not disdain a certain tendency to replace trusted men, but with one significant exception: the men of the Society of Jesus.”
“If there is a problem or a burning dossier, the Pope very often relies on the Jesuits, and so it was also for the situation at Caritas Internationalis, for the resolution of which the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Jesuit Cardinal Michael Czerny, played a decisive role. To the latter, over the years, Francis has entrusted more and more positions of responsibility, and who knows if he does not also see him as a possible successor.”
On November 28, in Monday Vatican, Andrea Gagliarducci explains this decision “risks giving the impression that there is no genuine desire to reform the Church. Instead, there is seemingly a wish to turn the hands of the clock back to before the pontificate of Benedict XVI.”
Indeed, in 2012, a Canadian organization of Caritas supporting the legalization of abortion had led “Benedict XVI to reform the statutes of Caritas Internationalis, placing the confederation under the umbrella of the then Pontifical Council Cor Unum. The new statutes also established a series of principles that would have avoided the risk of accepting in the confederation organizations not in line with Catholic doctrine.”
This according to the principle expressed in Benedict XVI’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate. Andrea Gagliarducci continues, “Ten years later, the statutes of Caritas are called into question, and a commissioner is appointed in a move that seems exaggerated, considering that the same press release speaks only of management problems and not of financial issues or sexual scandals.”
“A manager was chosen as Commissioner of Caritas, Pier Francesco Pinelli, who had already been called on to conceptualize the merger of the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, Migrants, and Cor Unum, and who then joined the team of inspectors of the resulting department.”
And he concludes, “the evangelical principles of charity in truth has been replaced by the pragmatic principle ‘realities are greater than ideas.’ Based on this principle, the risk is that the Church becomes inconsistent. And not just for the world, but for Catholics themselves.”