Caritas Philippines has welcomed the reorganization of its umbrella organization, Caritas internationalis, to better serve its member charities around the world.
Its head Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo admitted Pope Francis’ move was “unexpected” but said it was a welcome decision “with the hope that Caritas would truly be faithful to its identity and mandate”.
“We believe it is for the good of Caritas and its people,” Bagaforo said. “But we would like to reiterate that the reorganization is not due to corruption or mismanagement of funds.”
In a decree released November 22, the pope placed the entire organization under temporary leadership after a review by an independent panel found management and morale lapses at its head office in Rome.
A Vatican statement said the review found no evidence of financial or sexual impropriety. But it said other issues emerged, with “real deficiencies” found in management, “seriously prejudicing team spirit and staff morale”.
To lead the overhaul, the pope appointed Italian layman Pier Francesco Pinelli, a known business management consultant who had participated in the external review.
He will be assisted by Maria Amparo Alonso Escobar, Caritas’ current Head of Advocacy, and Jesuit Fr. Manuel Morujão, who will help in the “personal and spiritual accompaniment of the employees”.
The decree was announced while some 100 Caritas representatives from around the world were having a two-day meeting in Rome. It was read by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, who described himself as former president of Caritas Internationalis.
Tagle, the head of the Vatican’s evangelization department, will remain working with the temporary administrators, who will oversee improved policies and prepare for the election of new officers in May 2023.
“The timing was good because most of us are here and the opportunity for realignment of its internal structure and standard operating procedures is needed as we prepare to elect new leadership by May 2023,” Bagaforo said.
“We assure the public that Caritas around the world, including Caritas Philippines, is aware of what is happening and are in solidarity with CI,” he added.
Bagaforo and his executive secretary Fr. Tony Labiao are still in Rome for the final day of the Caritas’ representative council meeting.
“We would like to stress that the move of the Holy Father to declare all CI management positions vacant was in view of the 2023 general assembly, and that the structure of CI is still intact,” Labiao said.
“As members of the representative council from the seven regions, we are tasked to review the statutes and proposals for improvements of CI and the confederation,” he also said.’