Commissioner to lead Caritas Internationalis to elections next year to select new leadership.

Pope Francis has fired the entire leadership of the Roman Catholic Church’s global charitable arm and appointed a commissioner to run it until new executives are elected.

Tuesday’s surprise action involved the executives of Caritas Internationalis, a Vatican-based confederation of 162 Catholic aid, development and social aid organizations operating in more than 200 countries.

The layoffs at Caritas, which has more than 1 million staff and volunteers around the world, were announced in a papal decree released by the Vatican press office.

A separate statement from the Vatican’s development department, which oversees Caritas, said an assessment of the work environment this year by outside management and psychological experts found malaise and poor management practices at headquarters.

One employee told the Reuters news agency of instances of verbal abuse, favoritism and general human resource mismanagement that had led to some employees leaving. Caritas is located in a building in Rome owned by the Vatican.

‘Real shortcomings’

“No evidence of financial mismanagement or sexual impropriety has emerged, but the panel’s work revealed other important themes and areas of focus,” the development agency’s statement said.

“Real shortcomings were found in management and procedures, which seriously damaged the team spirit and morale of the staff,” the company said.

It said that while “financial matters have been handled well and fundraising goals have been met regularly”, management standards and procedures needed improvement.

A Caritas spokesperson referred all questions to the statement.

Among those affected by the decree was Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, who was nominally president of Caritas but was not involved in day-to-day operations. His main job at the Vatican is head of the Church’s missionary arm.

The position of president is traditionally held by a cardinal.

Tagle, a Filipino often considered a possible future pope, will step down as president but will remain in a new role to help the commissioner maintain relations with national Caritas offices and prepare for the election of a new leadership next year.

Two Caritas insiders who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said the decree targeted the management practices of the outgoing secretary general’s office and the board.

Except for Tagle and a priest, all Caritas executives were lay people.

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