ROME -- After moving last year to block the reelection of the first lay woman to head Caritas Internationalis, the Rome-based confederation of Catholic charitable agencies around the world, over an alleged “lack of coordination” with papal aides, the Vatican today imposed sweeping new rules that effectively tightens its control over Caritas' finances and global operations.
Among other points, the rules require the top officials of Caritas to make promises of loyalty before a Vatican official, including "Christian obedience" to church leaders.
Aside from its direct importance for Catholic charities, today’s Vatican move is also interesting for the recently decreed overhaul of the Leadership Conference for Women Religious in the United States, the country’s main umbrella group for superiors of women’s orders.
Like LCWR, Caritas Internationalis is a juridical person under church law recognized by the Vatican. The new rules are thus a further indication that the Vatican is in earnest about tightening its grip over groups that enjoy official status and, in some sense, represent the church.