Pope Francis on Tuesday appointed a temporary administrator to run Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based Catholic charity network, after outside experts highlighted management and procedural “deficiencies”.
The surprise move, announced in a Vatican statement, removes the existing leadership of the organisation, a federation of 162 Catholic relief, development and social organisations operating across 200 countries.
It follows a review of the “workplace environment” of Caritas Internationalis by a panel of independent experts commissioned by the Vatican’s dicastery for promoting integral human development (DPIHD).
“No evidence emerged of financial mismanagement or sexual impropriety, but other important themes and areas for urgent attention emerged from the panel’s work,” the DPIHD said in a statement.
“Real deficiencies were noted in management and procedures, seriously prejudicing team-spirit and staff morale.”
DPIHD chief Cardinal Michael Czerny added that in recent years, the needs of those served by Caritas had risen “markedly, and it is imperative that Caritas Internationalis be well prepared to meet these challenges”.
The new temporary administrator is Pier Francesco Pinelli, a former renewable energy executive and Bain consultant trained by the Jesuits.
Among his jobs will be leading preparations for the next general assembly of all of Caritas’ member organisations planned for May 2023, when a president, general secretary and treasurer will be elected.
The DPIHD said there would be “no impact on the functioning of member organisations and the services of charity and solidarity they provide around the world.
“On the contrary, it will serve to strengthen such service,” it said.
In a formal decree, Francis noted Caritas’ role in helping him in his “ministry towards the poorest and most needy”, but said its regulatory framework needed reviewing.
Caritas Internationalis had an income of more than five million euros ($5.13 million) in 2020, according to its annual report, almost half from membership fees and donations from member organisations, and the rest contributions from external donors.
The Vatican said “financial matters have been well-handled and fundraising goals regularly achieved” but the aim now was to “improve its management norms and procedures”.