Monday, May 30, 2011

Caritas International

I was so pleased to read about the Holy See's attempt to bring Caritas International into the Church, "not as a partner" but actually in the Church.

One of the problems is that Caritas is a federation of Catholic organisations, such as our own Cafod, that elects its General Secretary and even its Cardinal President. The Holy See can veto their nomination, as it did with Lesley-Ann Knight, but it cannot  appoint them, such vetoes tend to show the distance between the Holy See and Caritas' member organisations and so are only used in extremis.

The very nature of such elections indicates a problem. Christ did not set up a democracy when he founded the Church, demorcracy tends to consensus, and the lowest common denominator, hence the Holy See, and the Holy Father, can only only implore, counsel and admonish.

Any real reform has to come from local Churches and local bishops, simply because they control the purse strings, Caritas International is dependant on what comes in through contributions in the collection plate. Whether bishops are up for such a reform only time will tell.

The problem remains that Caritas is stuck in the Nu-Church thinking of the 1970's, Julian Filochowski's influence in England and Wales lives on, as do vestiges of Marxist Liberation theology both in those who organise aid and in those who ask for it.

Without Cafod bashing, it strikes me that if "the Church is missionary by its very nature" the local Church's Caritas groups are in the Church but not of the Church, there is no strong Catholic identity. They often partner secular groups, especially in combatting emergencies, that are strongly ambivalent to Catholic doctrine and therefore to the Church, . Although as Cardinal Murphy O'Connor assured us that the Pontifical Coincil for Health Care was "comfortable" with Cafod's ABC policy, such a policy is always ambiguous, lacks clarity and is open to misinterpretation.

In the 70s such ambiguity was very much part of Church life, the future, it seemed, was politically left leaning: tending towards the local Church, with its own brand of local Catholicism, at least as understood by the professional Catholics who are employed on rather large salaries to run such local organisations, these organisations have their own culture and tend to form their own "magic circles".

The publlic face of Caritas International meeting was dominated by the Holy Sees intervention but I suspect behind the scenes in Rome's trattorias there were serious concerns. Father Timothy Radcliffe might not have been the keynote speaker but he was dropped by the Vatican not by Caritas International.

It is not just the the political and theology left wing thinking of Caritas' leadership that needs addressing but also their involvement with Government. House sharing and long friendships with government ministers tends to lead one to suspect there is a closer alliance with political power than with the Gospel and the Magisterium.

In the age of new martyrs and anti-Christian persecution in the developing world and antipathy in the West Caritas International has a choice of either walking in step with the Church of today or walking away from it. Let us pray that the bishops of the world support the Holy See in drawing Caritas deeper into the mainstream Catholicism.

As others have pointed out the problems with Caritas can be seen in other Catholic organisation such as those dealing with Catholic education!


Anonymous said...

"Without Cafod bashing" may have been your intention, Father, but it seems to me you did not achieve your aim! And I am glad of that! Many thanks.

Michael Petek said...

Julian Filochowski's influence is the last thing we need. He's in a civil partnership with Martin Pendergast.

P Standforth said...

I think that your comment on the Bishops and parishioners controlling the purse strings is a bit optimistic; I think most of the funding, or a very large percentage of it, comes from central government. This of course means that the close relationships (house sharing!) are key to their funding process.

Anonymous said...

The reference to 'house sharing' does you no credit Father. There was nothing sinister or untoward in that at all, just two Catholic friends. The repeated innuendo is the disgrace, not their friendship and support for one another

Fr Ray Blake said...

I don't permit anonymous but..

I do not follow your innuendo, things are as they are, the Director of Cafod "shared a house" his words, with a Labour Minister, that, not any other matter raises serious questions.

Priests share houses, unhappilly if they are not of one mind. I used this an illustration of a relationship which was obviously happy, in order to illustrate a oneness of mind, NOTHING more.
The closeness of a senior member of Cafod to a government minister shocks and scandalises me.

I know nothing more than appears in Mr Bain's own explanation, to which I have linked. Did you read it?

Mike said...

P Standforth said...
I think that your comment on the Bishops and parishioners controlling the purse strings is a bit optimistic; I think most of the funding, or a very large percentage of it, comes from central government.

Cafod’s Financial Statement for the year ending 31st March 2010 shows that their total income was £49.1m. Of that, £32.1m came from CAFOD supporters and £11.6m came from Government and other grants.

Clearly most funding does not come from the government. Whether 24 per cent is 'very large' is a matter of opinion, although I would think that 24 per cent might give the government too much influence.

Hilary Cheating said...

I agree Father, a political alliance between Cafod and New Labour is more shocking than the alliance between Filochowski and Pendergast, though that too illustrates how far Cafod personel have deviated from the Magisterium.

Perhaps "Anonymous" has mixed up the two Directors and expects sexual scandal as a normative in Cafod.

Just another mad Catholic said...

Two points.

a) As I have argued before in a secular setting democracy is not necessarally a bad thing, this is obviously not true when it comes matters of faith, the structure of the Church etc. However I agree that when you have Catholic Charities (or confederation of) that deal in the secular realm then it is prudent for them to be an outpost of the Vatican with a Vatican appointed watchdog keeping everyone on their toes.

b) As far as I can see there is no evidence of any impropriaty finacnial or otherwise in the relationship between Chris Bean and Paul Goggins, merely a situation that could be interpreted as such if one is not in possesion of all the facts.

As for the fact that these two men are close friends; must one discard old University friends if one (for want of a better expression) climbs up the greasy pole? In this case it would appear that work of Mr Goggins had absolutely nothing to do with the work of Mr Bean.

Sharon said...

I hope that the proposed reforms trickle down to Australia.

santoeusebio said...

Cardinal Cormac seems to have been comfortable with a lot of things so no surprise that he claims Rome was comfortable with ABC. However in the "Light of the World" (page 118) Pope Benedict says "Meanwhile, the secular realm itself has developed the so-called ABC Theory: Abstinence - Be Faithful - Condom, where the condom is understood only as a last resort, when the two other points fail to work. This means that the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality, which, after all, is precisely the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love, but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves."

Does not sound as if his Holiness is comfortable with the theory!

Nicolas Bellord

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...