Cardinal Michael Czerny Cardinal Michael Czerny 

Cardinal Czerny to Caritas: Changes had to be made

Cardinal Michael Czerny, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, addresses Caritas Internationalis on the occasion of their General Assembly, and discusses the reasons behind the drastic changes made to the entity in November.

By Vatican News staff writer

Addressing participants in Caritas Internationalis' General Assembly on Friday, Cardinal Michael Czerny, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, spoke of the recent “drastic steps” taken by the Holy Father in November to address shortcomings in the operations of the General Secretariat.

He began by assuring the members of the Secretariat that the changes were “appropriate and necessary,” before going on to focus on several points.

Four points

The first point Cardinal Czerny focused on was, what the intervention was not. “It was not an examination of Caritas Internationalis in general” he stressed, adding that nor was it “to question the admirable and necessary achievements of CI or of any of its member Caritas.’”

His second point, he continued, is what triggered the process. “Quite simply, some people working in the General Secretariat complained about workplace problems. How many, what was said exactly and by whom … these are details that I need to keep confidential”, he added.

Cardinal Czerny then mentioned his third point, which was that “the problems could not be reduced to a few isolated complaints,” noting that this was verified in an investigation that was exhaustive.

Finally, his fourth point which highlighted that “the findings revealed patterns of workplace relationships and processes that prevented the General Secretariat from operating properly; furthermore, they undermined the wellbeing of staff. They put the operations, name and reputation at risk, not only of Caritas Internationalis, but of all Caritas.’”

Complaints require attention

Cardinal Czerny expressed his hope that these four points be accepted, not as a critique of everything, but bearing in mind that serious complaints require attention.

“The changes ordered by the Pope were drastic for persons whom you had come to know and appreciate. Moreover, he intervened at a delicate moment: Caritas was in the midst of a convention to celebrate fraternal cooperation; no one was thinking about drastic changes,” said Cardinal Czerny.

He expressed his hope that some or even all of the member’s concerns had been addressed and conclded urging Caritas Internationalis to “follow the example of the 'good and faithful servant' who knows how to use goods intelligently and avoids any suggestions or temptations that would be contrary to caritas”.

Finally, he added, “May you work together, guided by the compass of God’s word and valuing your multiple capacities and may all the paths you follow promote reconciliation, leaving behind past divisions and tensions rifts that rob you of the joy of the Gospel, Evangelii Gaudium”.

Cardinal Czerny's homily

Cardinal Czerny also presided over Mass for members of Caritas Internationalis on Friday morning, prior to addressing the General Assembly.

In his homily briefly touched upon the mission and mystery of Caritas. He noted that in 2004, Pope St John Paul II highlighted the bond that exists between Caritas Internationalis and the Church’s pastors "by recalling the source of love for the Church, which is Jesus Christ," adding that in the  Eucharist, is the food and drink that sustain us on the journey.

"In the presence of that great mystery", he asked, "how can we possibly respond?" We may even feel overwhelmed by that invitation, loving though it is. One way to reciprocate God’s love for us is by being a sign of that love for others, by making ourselves a gift for others, in humble service. By, as Paul says elsewhere, pouring ourselves out, like a “libation.”

"There is no better way of showing that we understand the mystery of the Eucharist. But as Caritas, in making that loving and generous gift, you must remind yourself, as the Holy Father says, of the mission that you have received from the church itself. 

"Caritas, as St. Paul wrote, is the most “sublime” way to know God and to understand the Christian faith," said Cardinal Czerny. He noted that loving the other is why Caritas is faithful to its mission, as "love opens our eyes, and enables us to recognize that the neighbour in need of caritas is my sibling with a name, a story, a drama, unique and never to be duplicated."  

Bringing his homily to a close, Cardinal Czerny noted that Caritas International was envisioned, over 70 years ago, "to express the love that comes from the heart of the Church". So from the Church flows the service Caritas offers especially to the neediest."

He noted that the task of all those present is threefold: "First, to proclaim the Gospel with good works." Secondly, "to exercise the commitment to caritas of your local Church", and thirdly, "unity".

Whatever you do, he concluded "love, love, love. Your name, Caritas, is beautiful, meaningful, demanding. Continue to be the Church’s caritas for all our siblings, everywhere, always." 

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12 May 2023, 09:35