New Caritas Oversight

A Vatican decree on May 2 established new norms for Caritas Internationalis, giving Vatican offices greater authority over the work of the umbrella group of 162 Catholic aid agencies around the world. The decision comes after the Vatican last year vetoed the re-election of the organization’s then-secretary general, Lesley-Anne Knight, complaining of a lack of coordination with Vatican officials. The organization is now under the supervision of the Pontifical Council, Cor Unum, which oversees the church’s charitable activities, and three members of its board will be papal appointees. Top officials of Caritas Internationalis will be required to pronounce loyalty oaths before the president of Cor Unum; its statements—particularly “any text with doctrinal or moral content or orientations”—and activities will have to be authorized in advance by the Vatican, except in “grave humanitarian emergencies.” Cor Unum will also appoint an ecclesiastical assistant to promote C.I.’s “Catholic identity,” and the Vatican’s Secretariat of State will supervise the confederation’s contacts with foreign governments.

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