Given Caritas’ worldwide presence, international profile and that it acts in the name of the church, the Vatican “has the task of following its activity and exercising vigilance in order that both its humanitarian and charitable action and the content of the documents that it disseminates may be in harmony with the Apostolic See and with the church’s magisterium, and in order that it may be administered with competence and transparency,” the monsignor wrote. According to the new norms, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will continue to give doctrinal oversight to texts that are of a moral or doctrinal nature and the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See will continue to monitor the administration of temporal goods. The Secretariat of State will have to approve official grants coming from governments and international organizations and non-emergency aid and development projects that have been started or are being run by Caritas Internationalis. Cor Unum and the secretariat of state will have to be notified of any agreements made with government authorities or nongovernmental organizations when Caritas Internationalis responds to emergency humanitarian situations. The new norms are part of Pope Benedict XVI’s concern over the authentic Catholic identity of church-run or sponsored aid and development programs, and his teaching that Catholic charitable activity should not be simple philanthropy, but a reflection of Christian faith and the obligation to love others as Christ loved. (Source)
While these new satutes and norms only affect Caritas specifically and not Development & Peace, the message that it sends to the whole “social justice” industry in the Church cannot be any more apparent: Be Catholic or we’ll make you Catholic.
From Brian Lilley’s column in the Catholic Register a few weeks ago:
In an interview once, I asked Mary Durran, currently the International Programs Officer for Latin America, how D&P spreads the Gospel to those they help. I was told that this was not D&P’s mandate, that others would bring the Gospel. Their job was development work. While I was shocked at the answer, Durran appeared shocked at the question. (Source)
Benedict’s message could not be more apparent to Development & Peace and the bishops of this country. Let’s pray that the bishops really get serious about insisting on a thorough Catholic presence when alleviating poverty and promoting authentic social justice. So far, the results have been less than satisfactory.