ROME (AP) — A former Jesuit novice with a background in non-profit organizations was elected secretary-general of the Vatican’s preeminent charity Monday, opening a new phase for Caritas Internationalis following Pope Francis’ ouster of the past leadership over bullying complaints.
Alistair Dutton, currently chief executive of the Scottish chapter of Caritas, previously served as humanitarian director for the confederation of 162 national chapters that is one of the most visible aid groups around the world.
During a general assembly in Rome, Caritas’ representatives elected Dutton secretary-general and tapped Kirsty Robertson, head of the Caritas’ Australia branch, as his vice president.
They round out the leadership team following the election over the weekend of Tokyo Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi as president.
The election was closely watched following Francis’ extraordinary decision in November to fire the Caritas Internationalis president, secretary=general, vice presidents, treasurer and ecclesiastic assistant after an outside investigation 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 in which staff members were bullied, harassed and humiliated.
In remarks reported by Caritas, Dutton promised to use his new role to drive the confederation forward.
“I promise to listen humbly, to reflect thoughtfully and to build bridges,” he was quoted as saying.