VATICAN CITY, May 20, 2011 ( – The UK Catholic weekly The Tablet reports today that the Vatican has cancelled the speaking engagement of a former head of the Dominican order at the upcoming general assembly of Caritas Internationalis. According to the paper, Fr. Timothy Radcliffe was set to deliver the keynote opening address Monday and had already prepared his talk.


Radcliffe is known as a very liberal prelate and is remembered by many for suggesting that, rather than ban homosexual men from the priesthood, those who express “homophobia” should be banned.

Writing in the London Times, Radcliffe said of the then-upcoming Vatican document banning homosexuals in the priesthood, “If it were to contain such a ban, which is highly unlikely, most Catholics, at least in the West, would find it unacceptable.  Any deep-rooted prejudice against others, such as homophobia or misogyny, would be grounds for rejecting a candidate for the priesthood, but not their sexual orientation.”

The news of Radcliffe’s cancelation has reignited talk about the Vatican’s moves to reform the Caritas agency and it’s worldwide affiliates many of which have struggled with questions of authentic Catholic principles and identity.

In Vatican circles discussion of the reformation of the Caritas agency in light of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate became animated in February when the Vatican refused to allow Caritas General Secretary Lesley-Anne Knight to submit her name for reelection to her position, citing the need to strengthen the organization’s “Catholic identity,” among other concerns.

Knight’s rejection
was met with protests from organization leaders and then Knight herself in public comments to National Catholic Reporter.

The General Assembly of Caritas Internationalis will take place from 22 to 27 May in Rome.  About 300 delegates will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the confederation which is the umbrella group for 165 national Caritas groups.

Of note, some attending the general assembly considered that the meeting would be especially important since the Caritas Internationalis “Statutes and Rules are in the process of being renewed with the Holy See.”

However, in a press release on the assembly today, the Vatican Information Service indicates that the renewal is already completed, describing the new statutes as “now in force.”