As for the change of the statutes of Caritas Internationalis, it was simply a matter of passing the competencies from the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which no longer exists, to the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, which has absorbed its functions.
As for the rules of procedure, these changes were not communicated. But they generally accepted some of the requests approved by the Caritas General Assembly, which envisaged encouraging the presence of women within the highest representative bodies and including two young people in the same representative bodies.
In particular, there was talk of the Representative Council of the federation, abbreviated with the name RE.CO., the acronym for Representative Council. These indications have now been implemented and will become operational.
The structure of Caritas Internationalis was thus “adjusted” and adapted to the reform of the Curia.
However, the statutes of Caritas Internationalis remained confirmed in the structure as Pope Benedict XVI reformed them in 2012. Those statutes strengthened the collaboration between Caritas Internationalis and the Holy See and clearly outlined the competencies of the Vatican Secretariat of State.
Not only that: the new structure of Caritas Internationalis gave greater coordination to departments and bodies connected to the Holy See, which also concerned doctrinal aspects.
The rationale behind Benedict XVI’s reform
It is noteworthy that the 2012 reform was part of a more extensive project by Benedict XVI to accomplish Pastor Bonus’s provisions fully.
Pastor Bonus was the apostolic constitution that regulated the functions and tasks of the Curia offices, and Praedicate Evangelium now replaces that.
However, the reform came after a governance crisis. In 2011, the Secretariat of State did not approve the renomination of the former secretary general, Lesley-Anne Knight. (However, her work was praised by the president of Caritas Internationalis at the time, Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga.) As a result, she was replaced by Michel Roy, a Frenchman who worked with Secours Catholique — the Caritas in France.
Knight’s non-confirmation also stemmed from the new approach given with the subsequent reform of Caritas Internationalis.
It was an approach that derived from the formulation of Benedict XVI’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate. In the encyclical, Benedict XVI stressed that human development and foreign aid could not be separated from the demand for truth. The encyclical also pointed to the fact that many international organizations were promoting abortion, contraception, sterilization, and euthanasia.
This was an approach that Knight did not fully share, as she publicly explained to the media at the time.
While some approved of Knight’s departure, others were disappointed. Despite a robust generational change in Caritas Internationalis in recent years, these divisive feelings may have lingered in the background and fueled some complaints about “management and procedures.”
What will the new reform look like?
The tone of the dicastery’s press release suggests that the reform will be more managerial. But, above all, it is a substantial change in philosophy from the reform of Benedict XVI.
In short, it could be another paradigm shift by Pope Francis, comparable to some degree to his restrictions of the Traditional Latin Mass.
From this point of view, Pope Francis has identified several people to help complete his changes to the Church’s structure.
In carrying out the reform, the pope does not hesitate to demote someone like Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, current president of Caritas, who now finds himself mandated to “liaise” with Pinelli and his staff for the upcoming general assembly.
Tagle was rumored to be appointed the next prefect of the Dicastery of Bishops. Even if these rumors were to be confirmed, Tagle’s public image has now been compromised by the Caritas decision. This will also weigh in a future conclave.
Pope Francis, however, is completing his goals. As he said in one of his homilies in the days of the COVID-19 lockdown of 2020 — and also in a meeting with the Candia Foundation in April — he remains critical of humanitarian organizations that do good work but spend 60% of their budget on wages. The pope called on them to keep costs to a minimum, “so that most of the money goes to the people.”
Andrea Gagliarducci is an Italian journalist for Catholic News Agency and Vatican analyst for ACI Stampa. He is a contributor to the National Catholic Register.