The appointment of an extraordinary commissioner (Pier Francesco Pinelli) last November 22 fell like a thunderbolt on Caritas, despite being the result of an evaluation of the management carried out over time by an independent commission. The decision was born - it was said then in a note from the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, which has jurisdiction over Caritas Internationalis - to accompany the institution in a process that would ensure "stability and empathetic leadership", but also to "finalize the process of nomination of candidates and the election procedures provided for in the Statutes of the organization".
It will be at this May Assembly, in fact, that the election of the President, the Secretary General, the Treasurer, but also the Executive Council and the Council of Representatives of the Confederation, who will remain in office until 2027, will take place. They will be replaced, therefore, by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, President since 2015 but also Pro-Prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization, and Secretary General Aloysius John.
There are 400 delegates representing the 162 Caritas organizations operating in some 200 countries and territories around the world.
New paths of fraternity
According to the program made public in recent days, the Assembly will have as its theme "Building new paths of fraternity", inspired by the encyclical Fratelli tutti of the Pope Francis. Precisely the private audience with the Holy Father will kick off the work. Among other issues to be discussed will be a reflection on how to make the work of Caritas organizations more effective in serving the poorest and most vulnerable, including in contexts of war (see Ukraine), pandemics, climate change and food insecurity worldwide.
Among those invited to speak at the Assembly will be the Holy See's Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations, Msgr. Paul Richard Gallagher, who will speak on the role of Caritas in the face of "global challenges."
The Holy See's Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations, Monsignor Paul Richard Gallagher, will be among those invited to speak on the role of Caritas in the face of "global challenges. Also expected to participate are Ambassador Gabriel Ferrero y Loma-Osorio, who chairs the Committee on World Food Security, and representatives from Ireland, Myanmar and Ghana.
Other sessions will focus on the themes of fraternal cooperation and synodality, with interventions by Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod, and Sister Alessandra Smerilli, Secretary of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development.
"In recent years we have witnessed a significant increase in the needs of the many people Caritas assists, and it is imperative that Caritas Internationalis is well prepared to meet these challenges," Cardinal Michael Czerny, prefect of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, said last November in explaining the reason for the commission. He added, quoting Pope Francis: "Charity is not a sterile benefit or a mere obolus to donate to soothe our consciences." Rather, "charity is God our Father's embrace of every person, especially the least and the suffering, who have a special place in his heart."
With this new Assembly, Caritas International is preparing to renew its structure in order to continue to be equal to its task.