Bullying allegations at Caritas: Pope dismisses leadership

Bullying allegations at Caritas: Pope dismisses leadership

EA cardinal reads his own discharge certificate, to an international audience at that. Such a humiliating scene doesn’t happen every day in the Vatican. And it wasn’t just any cardinal that Pope Francis announced that an Italian management consultant would temporarily take over his position. It was Luis Tagle of all people. In Rome he is considered by some to be Francis’ preferred successor to the papacy. At least the management of the international umbrella organization of the Caritas associations, Francis apparently no longer trusts the cardinal from the Philippines.

In a coup d’état, the Pope dismissed Tagle as President charity Internationalis including the entire management team. The delegates of the more than 160 charitable organizations that are part of the association were completely surprised by Tagle’s announcement last week in Rome. He has been at the helm since 2015 – without there having been any audible grumbling about his administration. No one could make sense of the Pope’s decision.

Tagle: Neither abuse nor financial irregularities

Because Tagle suspected the suspicion that the papal intervention would inevitably arouse, he tried to prevent it: he assured several times that the dismissals had nothing to do with sexual abuse or financial irregularities – without clearly saying what they were related to.

Of the Vatican only expressed himself in vague terms. According to a statement, there was an investigation into the working environment in the General Secretariat of Caritas Internationalis and its “conformity with the Catholic values ​​of human dignity and respect for every human being”. “Serious deficiencies in management and procedures” were identified, “which seriously affect team spirit and employee morale.”

That is Vatican and in German means something like: The Vatican had allegations of bullying investigated – and these were apparently confirmed. However, it remained unclear for the time being why the Pope immediately dismissed the entire leadership team and not just the Secretary General, who manages the operative business of the headquarters.

On Friday it then became clear that the Pope was apparently also dissatisfied with the work of the umbrella organization. The provisional head of Caritas Internationalis announced a fundamental reform of the headquarters by May 2023. This is about more effective support for the member organizations in the face of humanitarian crises such as the corona pandemic, the Ukraine war, but also the effects of climate change and famine, said management consultant Pier Francesco Pinelli.

Tagle will keep his main office

What that should look like in concrete terms remained open for the time being. In any case, the means are modest. Caritas Internationalis, which is assigned to the Vatican authority for development aid, has an annual budget of between four and five million euros. Hardly more than a handful of employees work in the Roman headquarters.

As President of Caritas Internationalis, Tagle had to leave. However, he will retain his main office as head of the Vatican authority for the churches in Africa and Asia. Francis hired the then Archbishop of Manila in 2019 for this task Rome fetched. However, the Pope also initiated an investigation in Tagle’s Vatican authorities a good year ago. The reasons are currently unknown, as is the outcome.

In Rome it is said that the 65-year-old cardinal is a gifted pastor but lacks assertiveness. The Roman augurs are more concerned than the question of how international Caritas will continue in the future, however, as to whether Tagle has lost the role of crown prince with Francis after the Caritas debacle.

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