By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Tuesday fired the entire leadership of the Roman Catholic Church’s worldwide charity after allegations of abuse and humiliation of staff and appointed a commissioner to run it.
The surprise move involved leaders of Caritas Internationalis (CI), a Vatican-based confederation of 162 Catholic aid, development and social service organizations operating in more than 200 countries.
The dismissal of the executive level of CI, which has more than one million employees and volunteers worldwide, was announced in a papal decree released by the Vatican press office.
A separate statement from the Vatican’s development department, which oversees CI, said a review of the workplace environment by external management and psychological experts this year found dysfunction and poor management practices at its headquarters.
Current and former employees told Reuters of verbal abuse, neglect and general mismanagement of human resources that led some employees to quit. CI is located in a Vatican building in Rome.
“No evidence of financial mismanagement or gender disparity emerged, but the panel’s work revealed other important topics and areas that require urgent attention,” the development office said in a statement.
“Real deficiencies in management and procedures were noted, which seriously damaged team spirit and staff morale.
He said that “although financial issues are well resolved and fundraising goals are regularly achieved, management norms and procedures need to be improved.”
A CI spokesperson referred all questions to the statement.
Among those affected by the decree is Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, who is the nominal president of Caritas but is not involved in day-to-day operations. His main job in the Vatican is the head of the missionary branch of the church.
The post of president is traditionally held by a cardinal.
Filipino Tagle, often considered a possible future pope, will step down as president but will remain in his new role to help the commissioner maintain ties with national Caritas offices and prepare for the election of new leadership next year.
Two Caritas insiders and one former employee, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the decree targeted the management practices of the outgoing secretary-general’s office and board.
A former employee said employees left their jobs at the headquarters because of an environment of violence, fear and “ritual humiliation.”
Except for Tagle and a priest, all members of the CI executive were laymen.
(This story has been corrected in paragraph 14 to say that the departures are in Rome, not outside Italy)
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Nick Macfie and Bill Berkrot)
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