There are concerns about the Catholic identity of Caritas. What do you make of that?
Knight: When you come into Caritas Internationalis from one of the member organizations, as I did, you recognize that we encompass small organizations – as in Nepal or Iraq or Mongolia or Macau, that may be no more than a bishop with a priest or two and a religious sister – as well as really big players, such as Catholic Relief Services in the United States or Caritas-Spain. There is absolutely no way you are going to be able to put them into a frame which is going to make everyone at any one time happy.
For me, that’s what it means to be Catholic. That’s the church I grew up with. It’s the spirituality of ‘In my father’s house, there are many rooms.’ Caritas brings together that all-embracing meaning of the church, where you are comfortable and welcome and included.
How do you explain the tensions between Caritas and the Vatican?
Some of the reaction may be that my agenda has been very outward-looking. I have a sense that we have sufficient organizations and energy and resources in the church which are inward-looking. My point has been, can we also look outwards at a world that needs us and the values that we hold? We’re developing a strategic framework for 2015, the core of which is the eradication of poverty and the idea of being one human family. That takes us out of ourselves to something bigger than ourselves. It’s an outward-looking confidence, that says I’m Catholic and I’m caring about you – not because you’re Catholic, but because I am. I think this gives us as the Catholic church a legitimate, credible face within what is a very secular society. (Source)
Why don’t you just come out and be specific, Lesley? You were probably dismissed because Caritas, like Development & Peace, was likely betraying Catholic social teaching on human life i.e. condoms, abortion, and God knows what else.
Like all churchspeaking bureaucrats and politicians, Lesley can’t come out and tell us the precise details of the disagreement. Gee. Where have we seen that before, huh? She was dismissed, you see, for “taking us out of ourselves into something bigger.” Yes, by jove, that’s the reason!
It wasn’t at all because Caritas didn’t turn a blind eye to serious breaches in the Church’s moral teachings. Pffffftttt.
If you want to lead a secular NGO, then go and join one.
“…Changes in the Vatican’s approach to international aid appear to be part of the general reform project outlined in Pope Benedict’s recent encyclical letter Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth).
The encyclical insisted that human development and foreign aid cannot be separated from the demands of truth: “Only in charity, illumined by the light of reason and faith, is it possible to pursue development goals that possess a more humane and humanizing value,” Benedict writes, and observes that international aid organizations are sometimes involved with abortion, contraception, sterilization, and euthanasia.
“Some non-governmental Organizations work actively to spread abortion, at times promoting the practice of sterilization in poor countries, in some cases not even informing the women concerned,” he writes. “Moreover, there is reason to suspect that development aid is sometimes linked to specific health-care policies which de facto involve the imposition of strong birth control measures. Further grounds for concern are laws permitting euthanasia as well as pressure from lobby groups, nationally and internationally, in favor of its juridical recognition.”
The CCODP, a Caritas member organization, has come under fire from pro-life groups for supporting organizations that advocate the legalization of abortion, distribute contraceptives, and support homosexualist policies. Knight vigorously defended CCODP after such policies were exposed by LifeSiteNews in early 2009 in a letter sent to donors and obtained by LSN.
In addition, anonymous Vatican officials told LifeSiteNews last November in Rome that similar problems exist with Catholic international aid organizations sponsored by other national bishops’ conferences and that this was a disturbing and unacceptable trend. LifeSiteNews was told that these bishops’ conferences were not conducting proper oversight over their international development and aid organizations resulting in the funding of groups whose objectives are in serious conflict with Catholic teaching…”(Source)