Pope fires leadership of global Catholic charity and appoints commissioner

VATICAN CITY, Nov 22 (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Tuesday dismissed all leadership of the global charity arm of the Roman Catholic Church following allegations of bullying and humiliation of staff and appointed a commissioner to head it.

The surprise move involved leaders from Caritas Internationalis (CI), a Vatican-based federation of 162 Catholic relief, development and social service organizations operating in more than 200 countries.

The senior management layoffs at CI, which has more than a million employees and volunteers worldwide, were announced in a papal decree released by the Vatican press office.

In a separate statement from the Vatican’s development department, which oversees CI, a review of the workplace environment earlier this year by outside management and psychological experts found malaise and poor management practices at headquarters.

Current and former employees told Reuters instances of verbal abuse, favoritism and general human resource mismanagement that had resulted in some employees leaving. CI is based in a Vatican building in Rome.

“No evidence of financial mismanagement or sexual impropriety emerged, but other important issues and areas that warrant urgent attention emerged from the panel’s work,” the development office’s statement said.

“Real deficiencies in management and procedures have been identified that are seriously affecting team spirit and employee morale,” it said.

While “financial affairs have been well managed and fundraising goals consistently met,” it said, management norms and procedures needed improvement.

A CI spokesman referred all questions to the statement.

Among those affected by the decree was Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, who was nominally president of Caritas but was not involved in day-to-day operations. His primary role in the Vatican is to direct the Church’s Missionary Department.

The office of President is traditionally held by a cardinal.

Tagle, a Filipino often viewed as a possible future pope, will step down as president but remain in a new role to help the commissioner maintain ties with national Caritas offices and look forward to the election of new leadership in the prepare for next year.

Two current Caritas insiders and a former staffer, all speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the decree targets the management practices of the office of the outgoing secretary general and board of directors.

The former employee said staff quit their jobs at the headquarters because of a climate of bullying, fear and “ritual humiliation”.

Except for Tagle and a priest, all members of the CI executive were lay people.

(This story has been corrected to say the departures took place in Rome, not outside of Italy in paragraph 14)

Reporting by Philip Pullella; Edited by Nick Macfie and Bill Berkrot

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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