Pope dismisses the leadership of global Catholic charity and appoints a commissioner

Pope Francis fired the entire leadership of the Catholic Church’s global charitable arm on Tuesday following allegations of harassment and humiliation of employees, and appointed a commissioner to lead it.

The unexpected decision affected executives of Caritas Internationalis (CI), a Vatican-based confederation of 162 Catholic aid, development and social service organizations working in more than 200 countries.

The layoffs at CI’s executive-level level, which has more than a million employees and volunteers worldwide, were announced in a papal decree published by the Vatican press office.

A separate statement from the Vatican’s development department, which oversees CI, said a review of the work environment this year by outside experts in management and psychology found unease and malpractices at its headquarters.

Current and former employees told Reuters of verbal abuse, favoritism and general human resource mismanagement that had led some employees to leave the organization. CI is headquartered in a Vatican-owned building in Rome.

“No evidence of financial mismanagement or sexual mismanagement emerged, but other important issues and areas of urgent attention emerged from the panel’s work,” the office’s statement said. “There were real shortcomings in management and procedures, which seriously damaged team spirit and staff morale.”

The statement states that although “financial matters have been well managed and fundraising targets have been achieved regularly,” management rules and procedures need to be improved.

A CI spokesperson referred all questions to the statement.

Among those affected by the decree was Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, who was nominally president of Caritas but did not participate in day-to-day operations. His main job at the Vatican is to lead the missionary arm of the Church.

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

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