Tagle: Pope's decree a process of humility and discernment for Caritas
By Salvatore Cernuzio
The result of "a careful and independent study" that does not concern cases of sexual abuse or mismanagement of money, but is meant to be "a call to walk humbly with God" and "a process of discernment". With these words, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, President emeritus of Caritas Internationalis, presented the Pope's decree concerning the organization, which was released today. The Filipino Cardinal read the decree in its entirety in English at the organisation’s plenary meeting, which took place yesterday and today at Villa Aurelia in Rome. Participants applauded certain passages. They also applauded when the Cardinal asked the new commissioner Pier Francesco Pinelli, along with Maria Amparo Alonso Escobar, who will assist him in this position, to stand up, in order to introduce them to the assembly. Pinelli was formerly a consultant for many of Caritas' management and financial sectors, while Amparo is currently the organisation’s advocacy and campaigns manager, and has long experience in advocacy in Africa and Geneva.
Reading from the decree
"We have our temporary administrator," Tagle began, joined at the speakers' table by Cardinal Michael Czerny, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. "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.”
"I would like to assure you that this is not, this is not, this is not," the Cardinal repeated three times, "about sexual harassment or sexual abuse. This is not about, again, mismanagement of money … the decree clearly stated the intention.”
Tagle expressed his gratitude to the Secretary-General, Aloysius John, who was not in attendance, to the members of the Executive Council, and to all the leadership, who, with the papal measure, are now no longer in office. "This," the Cardinal added, "is 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."
Cardinal Tagle also mentioned the increasing challenges that Caritas continues to face in caring for the poor and the marginalized all over the world. “For this reason," he said, "the decree states that the Secretariat, hopefully, will be prepared to assist you members and operate in a manner consistent with best practices and Gospel values.”
The upcoming General Assembly
The focus then shifted to the next General Assembly, which, the Cardinal stressed, will “come at a critical time." This had already happened with the 2019 Assembly, when "nobody expected that there would be a Covid-19 pandemic" and no one, two years later, "knew that with the Ukraine war, many other conflicts that have been in existence for so many years, would remain forgotten.”
The work, therefore, will go on: "We have strong administrators who will see us through, see the Confederation through until the next General Assembly. And this will not interrupt the operations of the Secretariat," Tagle concluded. "Let us please take time to consider how our member organizations could contribute to the strengthening of this wonderful time.”
Czerny: Management that lives up to the mission
For his part, Cardinal Czerny emphasized, “The Holy Father's decision is aimed at improving governance and making the management processes of Caritas Internationalis more effective. There has been insufficient attention to the care of people that is necessary to accompany the processes of change.”
“It is necessary,” the Prefect continued, “that Caritas Internationalis be better prepared to face the growing challenges that the contemporary world poses to the Church and to all of us, because Caritas has a fundamental role in the Church.”
Cardinal Czerny recalled, “Caritas Internationalis is the focal point at the Holy See for all the Caritas organizations that brings the Pope’s charity wherever there is need. Its management therefore must live up to its mission: the spread of charity and justice in the world in the light of the Gospel and the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
“I believe," he concluded, “that what the Pope has established is an expression of his paternity, not only toward the poorest and neediest, but also toward his colleagues who carry out a very important commitment of the Church: charity.”
Pinelli: Building a climate of trust and collaboration
Tagle then called to the speaker’s table Dr Pinelli and Ms Alonso, both of whom said they welcome the appointment with "a spirit of service." Pinelli, in particular – in an interview with Vatican News, on the sidelines of the assembly - thanked the Pope "for his trust" and explained that his intention in this new role is "to attempt, together with all the people of Caritas Internationalis, to initiate processes of reconciliation and improvement that can bear fruit in the long term for this association that has been in existence for 70 years."
So is this about a revitalization of Caritas Internationalis? For the temporary administrator, it is, instead, "a check-point to improve what is already excellent." He says he approaches this new service "with serenity and humility" and explains that his first goal will be to "work together" with the people in the Secretariat and all those who actively participate in the life of Caritas "to build a climate of trust and collaboration."
Updated 8:30 am, Wednesday, 23 November
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