VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican’s main charitable organization, Caritas Internationalis, is hoping to open a new chapter this week after Pope Francis fired top managers over bullying complaints. But the recently ousted head is fighting back, claiming the Vatican engaged in a “brutal power grab” fueled by a “colonialist” attitude.The drama is playing out as the Caritas General Assembly meets May 11-16 to elect new leaders following more than a decade of turmoil and a damaging sex abuse scandal in central Africa. The gathering is a key step in Francis’ efforts to renew the Vatican-based confederation of 162 national chapters that is one of the most visible aid groups in the world.
In an extraordinary display of papal power, Francis last November fired the Caritas secretary general, Aloysius John; the Caritas president, Filipino Cardinal Antonio Tagle; and Tagle’s vice presidents, the treasurer and ecclesiastic assistant. The Holy See said an outside investigation had found “real deficiencies” in management that had affected staff morale at the Caritas secretariat in Rome.
There was no evidence of financial wrongdoing or sexual misconduct. But former employees described a toxic workplace environment under John, where staffers were bullied, harassed and humiliated. Several quit, giving up sought-after, income tax-free Vatican employment rather than remain in abusive conditions.
When they began complaining internally in …
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