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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Tuesday sacked the entire leadership of the Roman Catholic Church’s philanthropic arm, following allegations of bullying and humiliation of staff, and appointed a commissioner to head the organization.

The surprising move involved executives from Caritas Internationalis (CI), a Vatican-based confederation of 162 Catholic relief and social service organizations working in more than 200 countries.

The layoffs at the executive level of CI, which has more than a million staff and volunteers worldwide, were announced in a papal decree published by the Vatican’s press office.

A separate note from the Vatican’s Development department, which oversees CI, said a review of the professional environment this year by outside administrators and psychology experts concluded that there was malaise and poor management practices at CI headquarters.

Former and current employees told Reuters that instances of verbal abuse, favoritism and human resources mismanagement had led some staff members to leave work. CI is headquartered in a building owned by the Vatican in Rome.

“No evidence emerged of financial mismanagement or sexual impropriety, but other important themes and areas of urgent attention emerged from the committee’s work,” the development office’s note said.

“Actual deficiencies were identified in administration and procedures, seriously undermining teamwork and team morale,” the statement reads.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella)

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