Firing At Vatican’s Foundation Won’t Impact U.S.
Firing At Vatican’s Foundation Won’t Impact U.S.

The head of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) is unconcerned by a shakeup in the top echelons of the Vatican’s umbrella organization for Catholic charity worldwide and said it won’t affect the U.S.-based nonprofit.

Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, shared her reaction with The NonProfit Times after Pope Francis abruptly fired the entire executive team of Caritas Internationalis and appointed a temporary administrator to serve until May 2023, when a new leadership team will be chosen.

The Vatican-based organization, whose Latin name loosely translates as “Love and Care Between Nations,” comprises more than160 Catholic humanitarian, relief and development organizations – including CCUSA – operating in 200 countries worldwide. It has served as the Roman Catholic Church’s international charitable and relief arm since 1951.

“CCUSA is simply one of the 160 member organizations of Caritas Internationalis,” Markham said. “This action has absolutely no impact on CCUSA or on any of the other national member organizations. It has no impact on CCUSA’s relationships with other Catholic charities across the world.”

The shakeup in Rome was cryptically disclosed by way of a papal decree stating that members of “the Executive Board, the President and Vice Presidents, the Secretary-General, the Treasurer and the Ecclesiastical Assistant cease to hold their positions” with the Vatican-based organization.

The Vatican press office later issued a statement attributing the Holy Father’s move to a “careful and independent study” of the organization’s internal operations, which published reports characterized as a hostile environment rife with workplace bullying and intimidation. However, the Vatican’s statement also clarified that there was no evidence of financial mismanagement or sexual abuse.

CCUSA, based in Alexandria, Virginia, recently was listed by The NonProfit Times as the third largest of the nation’s “NPT 100” nonprofits for 2022, with total revenue of $4.58 million for the preceding fiscal year.

The shakeup in Rome appeared to come without warning to CCUSA and the other member agencies of Caritas Internationalis, most of which are sponsored by national bishops’ conferences in their respective countries.

“We were not aware of Pope Francis’ decision before it was announced.  We learned of it, as did everyone else, through the media,” Markham said.

“From the media reports, it seems like this action was predicated by poor internal management of the Caritas Internationalis office in Rome,” she added. “It has been clear that there was no financial impropriety nor any sexual misconduct.  It seems to be solely related to the working environment of the office there. … We know nothing further and, again, it has no impact on CCUSA whatsoever.”