Carolyn Woo is stepping down from her post as Catholic Relief Services president and CEO

Carolyn Woo is stepping down from her post as Catholic Relief Services president and CEO

From the 9/16/16 e-mail edition of the Lepanto Institute’s Your Catholic Week in Review:

Today, Catholic Relief Services made the startling announcement that Dr. Carolyn Woo is stepping down from her post as its president and CEO.

What is startling about it is not so much the announcement itself, but the fact that the announcement made mention of Woo ending her supposed “five year term.”

To date, there is nothing in the public record suggesting term limits on presidents and CEOs of Catholic Relief Services, especially considering that her predecessor Ken Hackett was the executive director of CRS from 1993-2003 and president of CRS from 2003-2011. Much longer than 5 years.

Even CRS’s 2011 Annual Report announcing Woo’s appointment as the new president and CEO makes no mention of a 5 year term limit.

Taking the matter at face value, perhaps there is an unspoken agreement to hold leadership 5 years after the nearly 20 years served by Ken Hackett. Regardless of the cause, the news is nonetheless sudden and intriguing.

Replacing Woo is Sean Callahan, CRS’s number 2 man.

I remember meeting with Callahan in 2012 to discuss the serious problems at CRS I had discovered at that time.

What stands out the most from that meeting was Callahan’s glib response to my concern that CRS seems to divorce the Church’s primary mission … bringing souls to Christ … from her charitable works.

Callahan told me that CRS does work to make converts, but not converts to the Catholic faith; just converting people in the way they think and treat one another. I asked him point blank what good this does if souls are not being saved, and he equated a combined effort of feeding bellies and souls with “bribing the poor.”

Needless to say, I have little hope that the change of leadership at CRS will do much to improve the culture or direction of the organization.

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