At Caritas assembly, Vatican to address ‘Catholic identity’ issue

Sunday Edition, John Thavis,

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The general assembly of Caritas Internationalis in late May is shaping up as a defining moment for the confederation of 165 national Catholic charities, at a time when the Vatican is insisting on greater control over Caritas operations.

The agenda of the May 22-27 meeting reflects the Vatican’s moves toward closer collaboration and supervision: On the assembly’s first full working day, four Vatican officials will speak on the crucial topics of Catholic identity and the juridical status of Caritas Internationalis in the universal church.

Then new statutes for the organization, prepared by a working team of the Holy See and Caritas Internationalis, will be reviewed — statutes that, according to Caritas officials, would require them to consult with the Holy See before making certain decisions and would acknowledge the Holy See’s authority over Caritas’ financial and personnel issues.

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