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Caritas leader: Vatican control might strain international relief coalition

March 03, 2011

The head of Caritas International, the international consortium of Catholic relief agencies, has expressed concern that some member organizations will become “disillusioned” because of Vatican interference.

Lesley-Anne Knight, whose re-appointment as secretary-general of Caritas has been blocked by the Vatican, told the National Catholic Reporter that Vatican officials had not communicated clearly with the international consortium. Knight says that she was taken completely by surprise when the Vatican declined to approve her for a new leadership term. She reports that she has never spoken with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary of State, who conveyed the Vatican decision. There has been only “minimal contact” between Caritas and the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, she said.

In opting for new leadership, the Vatican called for greater efforts to ensure the Catholic identity of international relief operations. Knight insists that she supports that goal, but says that Catholic identity can mean different things to different groups within the international coalition.

“We need to respect the collegiality of bishops,” Knight said, pointing out that the member-groups within Caritas International are responsible to the bishops within their own countries. “If you’re Caritas-Japan, what does Catholic identity in Japan mean? It may not be the same as for Caritas in Spain. That’s the richness, but at the same time the vulnerability, of the Caritas confederation.”


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  • Posted by: Mike in Toronto - Mar. 03, 2011 11:20 PM ET USA

    @Steve214: Yes, it means "universal". It doesn't mean "uniform".

  • Posted by: Steve214 - Mar. 03, 2011 5:54 PM ET USA

    Hmmm. Doesn't "Catholic" mean "universal"?