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Pope removes Tagle in Caritas; Tagle denies sex abuse, corruption

by Malou Talosig-Bartolome

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle has denied that the decision of Pope Francis to remove him as head of Caritas Internationalis was a result of abuse or corruption, the Holy See’s news portal Vatican News reported Tuesday.

“I would like to assure you that this is not, this is not, this is not –about sexual harassment or sexual abuse. This is not about, again, mismanagement of money … the decree clearly stated the intention.” Cardinal Tagle said during the plenary meeting in Rome Tuesday.

In a decree Monday, Pope Francis has ordered a top-to-bottom revamp of the Caritas Internationalis, the charity arm of the Vatican. He appointed Dr. Pier Francesco Pinelli as temporary administrator, replacing Tagle who was the President Emeritus.

“In order to improve the fulfillment of this mission, it would appear necessary to revise the current regulatory framework to make it more appropriate to the statutory functions of the organization, and to prepare it for the elections to be held at the next General Assembly,” Pope Francis said.

The Vatican-based confederation is composed of 162 Catholic relief, development and social services organizations working in more than 200 countries.

In the same edict, Pope Francis has instructed Tagle to assist Dr. Pinelli during the transition phase until a new president is appointed during the General Assembly. Tagle was given another responsibility to handle “relations with the local Churches and Member Organizations of Caritas Internationalis.”

The Filipino cardinal read Pope Francis’ decree himself during Monday’s plenary. 

“This news might be a bit disturbing or confusing to some of you. But rest assured that this decision of the Holy Father came after a careful and independent study of the working environment of the Secretariat and the governance exercised by responsible persons and bodies,” Tagle said.

“This is a call for walking humbly with God and a process of discernment, confronting our unfreedoms and following the spirit of freedom, [and] at the same time, the walking together of different cultures in their unique expressions of humanity.” 

The Vatican News said “participants applauded certain passages” when Tagle read the decree. 

“For this reason,” he said, “the decree states that the Secretariat, hopefully, will be prepared to assist you members and operate in a manner consistent with best practices and Gospel values.”

Dr Pinelli welcomed his appointment with “a spirit of service” and thanked the Pope “for his trust.” 

Vatican News quoted Dr. Pinelli as saying that his administration would be “a check-point to improve what is already excellent.”

He said he wanted to  “initiate processes of reconciliation and improvement” and his first goal would be to “work together” with all people who participate in the life of Caritas “to build a climate of trust and collaboration.”

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