Cardinal Tagle replaced as head of Vatican charity
MANILA, Philippines — Pope Francis has replaced former Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle as president of Caritas Internationalis (CI), Vatican’s charity and disaster relief agency composed of more than a hundred organizations, following an independent review of its operations that found serious “deficiencies in management and procedures.”
The move was part of the overhaul of the leadership of the Vatican’s humanitarian arm, which will now be managed by a “temporary administrator” until a new set of officials are elected in a general assembly next year.
The Pope appointed Pier Francesco Pinelli, an Italian management consultant, as the temporary CI administrator, according to a Nov. 21 decree issued by the Vatican.
“With the entry into force of this measure, members of the Representative Council and the Executive Council, the President and Vice Presidents, the Secretary General, the Treasurer and the Ecclesiastical Assistant shall cease from their respective offices,” the decree said.
During the transition, Tagle will assist Pinelli in preparing for the organization’s general assembly in May next year wherein a new president and other CI officials will be elected.
Tagle was also tasked with serving as a liaison between member groups of the CI and local churches.
The Pope did not disclose the reasons behind his move in a statement.
“In order to improve the fulfillment of (Caritas’) mission, it would appear necessary to revise the current regulatory framework to make it more appropriate to the statutory functions of the organization, and to prepare it for the elections to be held at the next general assembly,” he said.
However, the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (DPIHD), which commissioned the review, cited “deficiencies in management and procedures, seriously prejudicing team spirit and staff morale” as the reasons behind the complete overhaul of the Caritas’ leadership.
“No evidence emerged of financial mismanagement or sexual impropriety, but other important themes and areas for urgent attention emerged from the panel’s work,” it said in a statement.
Caritas Internationalis, which serves as the headquarters of 162 charity organizations, is supervised by the DPIHD.
The review, which covered the “workplace environment of the CI general secretariat and its alignment with Catholic values of human dignity and respect,” was conducted by a panel of experts that included Pinelli.
The change in leadership was announced by Tagle himself during a plenary meeting of the CI, according to a report on the Vatican News website, where he was quoted as saying: “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.
The cardinal deemed the reorganization as “a call for walking humbly with God and a process of discernment, confronting our unfreedoms and following the spirit of freedom, [and] at the same time, the walking together of different cultures in their unique expressions of humanity.”
In a text message to the Inquirer, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said his organization had anticipated Tagle’s relief as head of CI “from the time that Pope Francis assigned him as prefect of the Dicastery for the Evangelization of Peoples.”
“Good heavens, those are two full-time jobs that cannot possibly be handled by one person. Understandably, it took time before Pope Francis could find a replacement and implement a long overdue reorganization of Caritas,” David told the Inquirer.
According to Fr. Gregory Ramon Gaston, rector of Pontificio Collegio Filippino in Rome and a Radio Veritas Vatican correspondent, CI is a large organization and each social arm of Catholic churches worldwide has its own officials.
“Each member agency or organization is autonomous. Each has its own set of directors, projects and finances, and does not receive direct orders continuously from [CI]. Given this degree of autonomy among member organizations and the intense work that each carries out, it is totally understandable that there is always room for improvement,” Gaston said in a statement to Radio Veritas.
Tagle is considered a leading papabile, or someone worthy to be pope, for having held numerous positions in the Vatican.
He was appointed as the head of the Dicastery for Evangelization, formerly known as the Propaganda Fide in 2019 and has since been based in Rome. Prior to this, Tagle had been elected for two consecutive terms starting in 2015 as CI president, which has a four-year term.
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