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Welcome to Starting Seven, The Pillar’s daily newsletter.

I’m Luke Coppen and I aim to guide you each weekday morning to the most interesting Catholic news and comment.

😇 Today’s feasts:  Bl. Miguel Pro  ▪  St. Columban ▪  St. Clement I.

📜 Today’s readings: Rv 15:1-4  ▪  Ps 98:1, 2-3AB, 7-8, 9  ▪  Lk 21:12-19.

🗞  Starting seven

1:  At today’s general audience, Pope Francis explained the difference between true and false spiritual consolation, and asked for prayers for Ukrainians “suffering the martyrdom of aggression” (English text, video, photos).

2:  Baltimore archdiocese has said it is not opposed to the release of the Maryland attorney general’s abuse report.

3:  Police in Mali are investigating the suspected kidnapping of German White Father Fr. Hans-Joachim Lohr.

4: A French diocese has reprimanded a priest after he said that abortion caused more deaths than the First World War (French press release, report).

5:  Bishop Daniel Flores reflects on Pope Francis’ “Petrine-Ignatian” approach.

6:  Andrea Gagliarducci explains why Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti’s appointment as prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches was “a bit of a surprise.”

7:  And Pope Francis’ wristwatch is being auctioned in aid of a U.S. charity.

🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino

🧐  Look closer

Caritas cashiered  Pope Francis issued a decree Tuesday overhauling Caritas Internationalis, the Rome-based confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development, and social service organizations.

The pope dismissed the body’s senior leadership — including its president Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle — and appointed a former Bain consultant to serve as temporary administrator.

Why now?  The Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, which oversees Caritas Internationalis, said that a review of the organization’s “workplace environment” found “real deficiencies” in “management and procedures, seriously prejudicing team spirit and staff morale.”

AP’s Nicole Winfield reported that a former Caritas employee who cooperated with reviewers “recounted instances of bullying and incompetence” under its secretary general Aloysius John. These related especially to the fallout from an abuse scandal involving a previous national director of Caritas Central African Republic. John did not respond to an AP email seeking comment.

Current and former staffers told Reuters “of cases of verbal abuse, favoritism, and general human resources mismanagement that had led some staff to leave.”

  • “Two current Caritas insiders and one former staffer, all of whom spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, said the decree was aimed at the management practices by the office of the outgoing secretary general and the board,” reported Philip Pullella. “The former staffer said employees had left jobs at the headquarters because of a climate of bullying, fear and ‘ritual humiliation.’”

Who’s affected? Vaticanista Andrea Gagliarducci said that Cardinal Tagle, Caritas Internationalis president since 2015, was among the apparent losers after the papal intervention.

  • “Tagle was rumored to be appointed the next prefect of the Dicastery of Bishops. Even if these rumors were to be confirmed, Tagle’s public image has now been compromised by the Caritas decision. This will also weigh in a future conclave,” he wrote.

The Tablet’s Rome correspondent Christopher Lamb said the decree was “hardly a vote of confidence” in Cardinal Tagle’s leadership.

Reuters noted that the Filipino cardinal “was not involved in the day-to-day operations” and would “remain in a new role to help the commissioner keep up relations with national Caritas offices and prepare for election of a new leadership next year.”

The changes could also affect members of the Caritas Internationalis network, including front-line aid groups such as Caritas Ukraine. But the Vatican’s human development dicastery insisted there would be “no impact on the functioning of member organizations and the services of charity and solidarity they provide around the world; on the contrary, it will serve to strengthen such service.”

What’s next? Caritas Internationalis members will attend a general assembly in Vatican City in May 2023 where they will elect a new president, vice presidents, secretary general, and treasurer.

Meanwhile, temporary administrator Pier Francesco Pinelli will update the body’s statutes, which were approved by Pope Francis as recently as 2020, and its internal regulations.

What's Starting Seven? Here's what you're reading, and how to get must-read morning news in your inbox, each day.

🔍 Stories to watch

🇺🇸  Philadelphia Archbishop Nelson Pérez has been named chairman of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) board of directors.

🇮🇪  Irish Archbishop Dermot Farrell has said that abuse survivors’ suffering has been “compounded by the pathetic responses of those who failed to protect the people they were ordained to shepherd.”

🇺🇦  Ukraine’s Latin and Greek Catholic bishops have begun their annual joint retreat before Advent (Ukrainian report).

🇪🇬  Eastern Orthodox Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria will no longer commemorate Patriarch Kirill of Moscow in the Divine Liturgy.

🇬🇭  A bishop has urged traditional leaders in Ghana to oppose the exploitation of local iron ore deposits.

🇨🇩  Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu has asked youngsters to show solidarity with people displaced by fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

🇯🇵  Researchers have discovered a 17th-century letter from Japanese Catholics to the pope.

📅  Coming soon

Nov. 25  Verdict in Cardinal Joseph Zen’s trial expected.

Nov. 27  First Sunday of Advent.

Nov. 30  Feast of St. Andrew.

Dec. 1  Benedict XVI due to receive 2022 Ratzinger Prize winners.

Dec. 3  Vatican Christmas tree and Nativity scene unveiled.

Dec. 4  First anniversary of Hong Kong Bishop Stephen Chow’s episcopal ordination.

Dec. 5  “Fruits of the Spirit” exhibit launched at London’s National Gallery.

Dec. 7  Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington turns 75.

Dec. 8  Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception; Pope Francis’ act of veneration of Mary Immaculate; Worldwide Women’s Rosary.

Have a happy feast of Bl. Miguel Pro, St. Columban, and St. Clement I.

-- Luke

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