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Cardinal Stafford response about Caritas of Birmingham

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Dear Ed,

Your letter arrived today. The news you shared with me is distressing. I can barely imagine what Patsy, Tori and you are experiencing.

I have reviewed the requests for recognition as a lay organization with Pontifical approval and found nothing for Caritas in our files. Nor has the priest any knowledge of this group who is responsible in the Pontifical Council for the process of such recognition.

Pontifical recognition can only be given with the recommendations of the local bishop. Groups seeking such recognition also must be international in extent and have letters of support from each bishop in whose diocese they are found. From what you have told me, Bishop Foley not only doesn't support Caritas but has many preoccupations about it. That would stop any formal process for approval at zero.

You indicate that Caritas may be in the process of finding a house in Rome. Nothing can prevent them from doing so if it has the money, the property and the approval of the Roman civil authorities. Each of these is a specific and difficult hurdle. Moreover, any official access to an office of the Roman Curia would be nearly non-existent. I am confident that the Holy Father has no knowledge of it and would not have any relationship with it.

As you know, Ed, the apparitions to the visionaries of Medjugorje have not received any official recognition from the Catholic Church. They are still under study. This reality doesn't lessen the terrible anguish Patsy and you feel for your three children. It does point up the folly of giving so much of their precious lives to an as yet unapproved phenomenon and with a group which has not sought the Church's formal recognition, It is also important to avert to the "deep concern" over Caritas expressed by Fr. Kraljevic Svetozar, ofm., in his letter you attached.

Bishop David Foley of Birmingham is the significant person from a canonical and pastoral point of view to deal with Caritas's use of its Catholic identity as you and others describe it. If there are abuses, he has the authority and responsibility to deal with them.

Be assured of my prayers for you, for Patsy and for your children.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

James Francis Card. Stafford



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