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Cardinals clash over leadership of Caritas

Catholic World News - February 22, 2011

The Vatican Secretariat of State, led by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has decided to replace Lesley-Anne Knight as secretary-general of Caritas Internationalis, the Church’s consortium of relief and development agencies.

“The Holy See wants a change in the way it works with Caritas and says this requires a change in the person of the secretary-general,” Caritas said in a statement.

Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, Caritas’ president, lobbied for the continuance of Knight in her position, according to the Caritas statement, which said that Caritas’ leadership “deeply regrets the decision of the Holy See.”

Knight had reportedly drawn the ire of some Vatican officials with occasional blunt critical statements about the Church bureaucracy. Perhaps more important, she was criticized for failing to ensure a distinctive Catholic identity for Caritas.

“After four years [in office], the mandate of the present secretary-general, Lesley Anne Knight, will end,” said Cardinal Robert Sarah, the Guinea-born president of the Pontifical Cor Unum, which oversees Caritas. “In this time, Knight has done much to make the confederation more agile and professional. Now Caritas Internationalis is dealing with new internal challenges, including the revision of its statutes. These challenges also involve internal collaboration, the Catholic identity of the confederation, cooperation with the Holy See, greater participation of the various continents, a proper understanding of the autonomy of each Caritas member of the confederation.”

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