Renewed Juridical Framework for Caritas Internationalis

Vatican Information Service
May 2, 2012

Vatican City, 2 May 2012 (VIS) - Made public today was a General Decree concerning the renewed juridical framework of Caritas Internationalis. The document, which bears the signature of Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., was approved by the Holy Father on 27 April, and comes into force from the moment of its publication.

The publication of the decree is being accompanied by an explanatory text in English, written by Msgr. Osvaldo Neves de Almeida, excerpts from which are given below.

"In its sixty-one years of existence, Caritas Internationalis has always been a privileged instrument of the Church’s charitable activity. Drawing upon its long experience of this worthy institution, and in particular the developments of recent years, the Holy See has sought to update the juridical status of Caritas Internationalis, in order the better to support its activity in the context of the modern world".

"Blessed John Paul II gave it public canonical juridical personality by means of the Chirograph 'Durante l'ultima Cena'. ... This public juridical person is governed principally, though not exclusively, by its proper legislation and by the relevant provisions of the Code of Canon Law. The Chirograph 'Durante l’Ultima Cena', in recognising the special bond linking Caritas Internationalis with the Apostolic See, implicitly established that its governance and operation should make reference to the First Section of the Secretariat of State. At the same time, the Chirograph gave the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum' the task of following and accompanying the activity of Caritas Internationalis".

The process of updating the juridical framework of Caritas Internationalis

"The experience garnered in almost eight years of applying the Chirograph 'Durante l’Ultima Cena' has made it possible to understand in greater detail how to carry forward a process of juridical updating that not only respects but expresses even better the nature of the organisation and clarifies the distribution of competences among dicasteries and offices with an interest in it".

"Between January and May of last year, a working group of representatives from Caritas Internationalis and the Holy See studied a new version of the Statutes of Caritas Internationalis, with the intention of resolving the interlinked doctrinal, juridical and economic issues. ... During the said meetings of the working group, one of the points to emerge was the need for legislation to complement the Chirograph 'Durante l’Ultima Cena', as a normative reference-point for the application of the new Statutes. Having received the draft Statutes, the Holy Father gave precise instructions to the Cardinal Secretary of State on the contents of the said text due to complement the Chirograph. Accordingly, in deference to these indications, the General Decree was drawn up and the new Statutes and Internal Rules were revised in accordance with it".

Some characteristic features of the new General Decree

"Articles 1, 2 and 3 of the General Decree clarify the competences of the principal dicasteries involved. In this regard, first and foremost, the role of the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum' has been strengthened (art. 1), the dicastery, that is, that follows the institutional activity of Caritas Internationalis and is responsible for approving its texts with doctrinal or moral content".

"Articles 4 and 5 establish guidelines for the future redaction of specific norms governing employment of personnel and the preparation of a suitable welfare regime. The employees of Caritas Internationalis, in fact, while they are not Vatican employees, are part of the working community of the Apostolic See".

"Article 6 ... establishes that at least three members of the Executive Board be papal appointments. This allows the Holy Father to designate individuals of specific proven competence, particular those coming from poor regions or regions deserving of privileged attention. ... It remains the case, however, that the majority of members are chosen by national Caritas agencies, which therefore continue to be responsible for the governance of this important structure of the Confederation.

"Moreover, provision is made for an Ecclesiastical Assistant and a Support Commission. ... In addition to the 'nihil obstat' of the Holy See for candidates for the offices of President and Secretary-General, ... the General Decree and the new Statutes require a 'nihil obstat' for the candidates for Treasurer".

"Article 7 re-affirms the general principle that significant canonical and Vatican legislation is binding upon those who are employed in entities situated within Vatican City and institutionally linked to the Holy See".








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