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Pope issues new rules to strengthen Catholic identity of charities

By on Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Pope Benedict XVI has issued new rules to strengthen the religious identity of Catholic charities and ensure that their activities conform to Church teaching.

The Pope’s apostolic letter De Caritate Ministranda (“On The Service of Charity”) issued “motu proprio” (on his own initiative) directs bishops in overseeing charitable works in their dioceses. The document, dated November 11, was released by the Vatican on Saturday.

In the letter the Pope wrote that charities approved by the Church or supported by Church funds “are required to follow Catholic principles in their activity and they may not accept commitments which could in any way affect the observance of those principles”.

Staff members of such charities must therefore “share, or at least respect, the Catholic identity” of their agencies, and exemplify “Christian life” and faith. Bishops are to provide these employees with “theological and pastoral formation” through special courses and “suitable aids to the spiritual life”.

Catholic charities are forbidden to “receive financial support from groups or institutions that pursue ends contrary to the Church’s teaching”, or to “accept contributions for initiatives whose ends, or the means used to pursue them, are not in conformity with the Church’s teaching”.

To ensure that the Church’s charitable agencies reflect “Christian simplicity of life”, each bishop is to set their salaries and expenses at levels “in due proportion to analogous expenses of his diocesan Curia”.

When “the activity of a particular charitable agency is no longer being carried out in conformity with the Church’s teaching”, Pope Benedict wrote, the responsible bishop must inform his flock and “prohibit that agency from using the name ‘Catholic’.”

The document is the Vatican’s latest measure aimed at reinforcing the religious identity of Catholic institutions. In May 2012, the Vatican issued rules strengthening its control over Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of 164 Catholic relief, development and social service agencies around the world, including Cafod in England and Wales.

In the apostolic letter, the Pope praised Caritas for its “generous and consistent witness of faith and its concrete ability to respond to the needs of the poor”.

He also instructed bishops to foster the establishment of a “local Caritas service or a similar body” in every parish under their authority, not to only to provide aid to the needy but to educate the community in a “spirit of sharing and authentic charity”.

Pope Benedict specified that the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Vatican office in charge of coordinating and promoting charitable giving, would be primarily responsible for “promoting the application of this legislation and ensuring that it is applied at all levels”.

  • Charles

    Let’s hope the bureaucrats at the CCHD (Catholic Campaign for Human Development) in the US are prevented from continuing to give money to anti-Catholic organizations like Planned Parenthood and Amnesty International. Bishops must be on their guard and not so naive about how their staff is spending the money which we give at collection in church. I don’t give money to the church only for it to be naively turned over to anti-Catholic groups.


    The complete Apostolic Letter, Motu Proprio “On the Service of Charity” can be read on the Vatican web site.
    Bookmark this site for your future use, and share with your Parish priests, Nuns, etc.
    If you know of ANY abuses that violate “On the Service of Charity” contact the appropriate Diocese Bishop, including any violations that may exist through Bishops’ Conferences. Send appropriate documentation.
    Within a reasonable period of time, if nothing is done by your Diocese Bishop to correct the violations, the Pope has set up “Pontifical Council Cor Unum” to handle the violations as stated in this Apostolic Letter.
    Contact info for this council can be found on the Vatican web site as well.
    We each have an obligation to do our parts in reporting abuses per Code of Canon Law 212 #3.
    As an aside, on the net you may find “Papal Frontal Assault 12-04″ by ChurchMilitantTV (Michael Voris) interesting.

  • Benedict Carter

    Would love to read Paul Priest and his knowledge of CAFOD on this thread. An organisation that should have lost its “Catholic” status a good time ago. Paul, where are you?

  • rjt1

    I recently had some correspondence with a charity that uses the word ‘Catholic’ in its title. The employees concerned seemed to think that the Pope’s recent remarks on condoms meant that it was sometimes ok to use them. As I could not convince them otherwise, I decided to give my money to another charity.

    This is what they said: “We work with our partners to ensure that they provide full and accurate information on all means of risk reduction, so that individuals can make choices that are possible in their circumstances. I acknowledge that this approach and the interpretation of the Pope’s comments may differ from your own views. ”

    [Seems to me they are condoning the use of condoms, which I take to be an intrinsic evil]

  • rjt1

    Essential reference. I think that should be in the article (Catholic Herald please note)

  • Tim

    Can you name them so we can all give them a wide berth?

  • paulpriest

    Injured after falling down a flight of stairs at a railways station – cracked ribs and a face like the phantom of the opera and in unbelievable agony

     I won’t go into of CAFOD’s lengthy list of indictments BUT:

    It is outrageous that CSAN and CAFOD  should have ANYTHING to do with any assessment, appreciation, analysis or adjudication in regard to any Charity’s conformity to Catholic doctrinal, moral and social teaching.

    A thoroughly Independent scrutiny body is required – and given we have a Pontifical Institute [Maryvale] I would give them the remit in forming a Committee of Moral and Doctrinal experts- of course headed by an Archbishop [dissociated from present/previous administration with these Charities and Conference itself ] ergo either the Present Nuncio or an Archbishop from outside the jurisdiction of England and Wales. As we also have the Anscombe Centre I would also expect them to have an advisory but non-judicial role in the scrutiny; and I should hope a host of expert witnesses from both Catholic [e.g. Good Counsel Network, Aid to the Church in Need  etc] & Secular [most prominently SPUC!!] organisations would be interviewed – as would  the amount of Catholic Lay Apostolates and Organisations/Individuals of good standing who wish to state their grievances regarding present policy.

    This would include scrutiny of EVERY organisation which is afforded the title Catholic.
    I am thinking especially of my personal bugbear – Catholic Voices – whom in spite of repeated requests to themselves and their co-ordinators and repeated requests to the Catholic Communications Network – abjectly refuse to reveal under which Ordinary they have been granted both the name Catholic and the apostolic remit and jurisdiction to continue in their activities.- especially given their recent contra-Catholic and morally questionable/ambiguous positions.

    This scrutiny would ALSO include that Canonical regulations are adhered to in regards to employment:
    i.e. That they are Catholics in good moral standing – NOT those who advocate/promote/endorse the culture of death [abortion/euthanasia, population control, assaults on the embryo, the contraceptive mentality, assaults against the family] and not those who have either legislated for abortion or euthanasia measures or even procured/funded an abortion themselves.
    That they are not in a relationship invoking public scandal [e.g. an overt adulterous relationship  or homosexual relationship which has been civically [and therefore publicly] recognised] [note I'm not referring to private indiscretions or morally disordered relationships - people might be living in sin or in homosexual relationships etc - but when they have audaciously introduced a civic endorsement on that relationship? There is public scandal]
    That they are NOT laicised Priests who are Canonically proscribed from performing certain administrative, educational or pastoral roles.
    That they have not invoked public scandal via advocacy/promotion of contra Catholic positions in regard to Magisterial and Moral teaching – especially in regard to the position of Humanae Vitae and direct appeals to infallible tradition [e.g. women priests] or who have directly contravened Canon Law and Ecclesiastical Directives.

  • paulpriest

     sorry to interject but when used directly [and prophylaxis is not a justification] they’re an intrinsic moral disorder [i.e. may only be performed to prevent a grave objective evil] – but in other circumstances they are merely morally disordered and therefore a condom MAY be used for assisted fertilization [i.e. collection of semen after lovemaking and transferring it past the vulva to prevent its destruction in a spermicidal birth canal - permitted by Pius XII's allocutios] or a perforated condom may also be used to collect a sperm sample post coitus [the act of intromissio et ejaculatio in vagina is still fulfilled] if the collection is for promotion of fertilization or assisted fertilization.

    Know this may seem pedantic or specious but we need to get the teaching right – they are not intrinsically evil.
    If it was there would be severe consequences for those utilising NFP [which is still morally disordered being contraception by omission] but subsumed within the precepts of the double effect.

  • rjt1

    Thanks for that, Paul. I was too vague: I would posit that the use of condoms in a way which frustrates the inherent nature, purpose and meaning of the sexual act [I'm referring here to heterosexual intercourse] is intrinsically evil, as is, I suggest, their use to facilitate other types of immoral sexual behaviour.

  • paulpriest

    No – thank you for raising the issue – because there are far too many commentators out there screwing up the teaching of humanae vitae and claiming it is humanae vitae [e.g. by saying that NFP is a moral good [it NEVER is] or GIFT is acceptable [it isn't!]!!!

    Re your allusion – ironically as the practice is already gravely sinful one is mandatorily expected to engage in all forms of non-aggravation – so prophylactic intention by prostitutes does come in to play to diminish the extension of gravity of a sin. [note I don't say to make a sin less sinful - only to not make it worse - which is what the Pope was trying to say before Lombardi and the world media and opportunistic commentators jumped on the bandwagon and confused the message - the Pope's saying 'movement towards moral ordering' was a 'not making things worse' not a 'making things better']

    The real problem is that there are scoundrels in the moral theology/professional Catholic ‘commentary’ realm [they know who they are] who seek to endorse ‘prophylactic intention’ to justify the use of condoms by hiv  serodiscordant married couples to prevent transmission. This is of course forbidden by the fifth commandment before one even considers the teaching of humanae vitae.

  • Michelle Egan

    So when o when are we going to see some obedience from CAFOD ?

  • scary goat

     Sorry to hear about your injury.  Hope you will be better soon.

  • Ampersand

    Does the prohibition include governments working against Christian morality?

    And will Catholic ministers joining a group to campaign againt Christian morality and Catholic teaching run any risk of excommunication?

  • Peter

    Not only does the Pope prohibit Catholic charities from having anti-Catholic agendas or from receiving donations from organisations with anti-Catholic agendas, but crucially he is making it obligatory that every parishes has a formal group dedicated to the funding of charity and to making parishioners understand why it is important to do so.

    Currently there are parishes who have voluntary groups such as Cafod Connect2 or twinning arrangements or an SVP society geared towards the developing world.  Lamentably there are parishes that do nothing in this regard and focus all fundraising for themselves.  

    Thankfully the Pope has recognised this and has sought to correct it, both to the material benefit of those who receive in the developing world and to the spiritual benefit of those who give over here.