Caritas Internationalis

Caritas Internationalis is a confederation of 165[2] Catholic relief, development and social service organisations operating in over 200 countries and territories worldwide.

Collectively and individually their claimed mission is to work to build a better world, especially for the poor and oppressed.[3] The first Caritas organisation was established by Lorenz Werthmann on 9 November 1897 in Germany.[1] Other national Caritas organisations were soon formed in Switzerland (1901) and the United States (Catholic Charities, 1910).

Caritas Internationalis
Caritas Internationalis logo
Founded9 November 1897[1]
(121 years ago)
FounderLorenz Werthmann
FocusHumanitarian aid, International development and social service
Area served
Key people
Luis Antonio Tagle, president
St. Nicholas Orphanage
St. Nicholas Orphanage, established by Caritas in Novosibirsk, Russia.


In July 1924, during the international Eucharistic Congress in Amsterdam, 60 delegates from 22 countries formed a conference, with headquarters at Caritas Switzerland in Lucerne. In 1928, the conference became known as Caritas Catholica. The delegates met every two years until the outbreak of the Second World War when all activities came to a standstill. Work resumed in 1947, with the approval of the Secretariat of State, and two conferences convened in Lucerne to help coordinate efforts and collaboration.

Caritas was given a further endorsement when the Secretariat of State entrusted it with the official representation of all welfare organisations at the international level, especially at the United Nations. The Holy Year in 1950 saw the beginning of a union of Caritas organisations. Following a suggestion by Msgr Montini, then Substitute Secretary of State, and later Pope Paul VI, a study week, with participants from 22 countries, was held in Rome to examine the problems of Christian Caritas work. As a result, the decision was made to set up an international conference of Roman Catholic charities.

In December 1951, upon approval of the statutes by the Holy See, the first constitutive General Assembly of Caritas Internationalis took place. Founding members came from Caritas organisations in 13 countries: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States. The Church describes Caritas as its official voice “in relation to its teachings in the area of charity work”.[4]

In 1954, the Confederation changed its name to Caritas Internationalis to reflect the international presence of Caritas members on every continent.[4] As of 2015, the Confederation has 164 members working in over 200 countries and territories. Its General Secretariat is located in the Palazzo San Callisto, Vatican City. The current president is Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and the Secretary General is Michel Roy.[5]

Caritas national and regional agencies

The full membership list of Caritas organisations includes:


45 national agencies in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Chad – SECADEV (Caritas Chad) has partnered with the Canadian bishops' Development and Peace program to provide essential aid for Sudanese refugees in Chad, including access to water, financing for small businesses and agricultural projects.[6]
  • Egypt (part of MENA regional agency)
  • Kenya – Caritas Nairobi- operated by the Archdiocese of Nairobi
  • Nigeria – Caritas Nigeria claims to work with local diocesan Caritas to bring relief to displaced families in the North East region displaced because of attacks by Boko Haram.[7]
  • Uganda – Caritas Uganda (founded in 1970)[8]


24 national agencies including:


Berlin st norbert 05.02.2015 13-24-14
Nursery home of the German Caritas

Caritas Europa with 48 national agencies including:

North America, Central America and the Caribbean


6 regional agencies, including:

  • Australia – Caritas Australia claims involvement in peacebuilding and reconciliation programs in Brazil, Sri Lanka, The Philippines, Papua New Guinea and elsewhere.[16]
  • New Zealand – Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Papua New Guinea – Caritas PNG
  • Caritas Samoa claims to give assistance to low income families, provides capacity-building initiatives for women, help with the improvement of rural waters supplies, and provides assistance to address needs caused by natural disasters.[2]

South America

See also


  1. ^ a b "The History of Caritas in Germany". Caritas Deutschland. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Caritas means charity – In Samoan it means Alofa", Samoa Observer, 13 July 2013.
  3. ^ Caritas Internationalis Archived 9 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b "History - Caritas Internationalis". Caritas Internationalis. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  5. ^ "Caritas Internationalis elects Michel Roy as new Secretary General". Catholic World Report. 26 May 2011. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  6. ^ "Sudan/Darfur". Development and Peace. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Boko Haram threatens Nigeria's Home of Peace - Caritas Internationalis". Caritas Internationalis. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  8. ^ "Caritas Uganda". Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  9. ^ "Caritas India sees surge in local donors". Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  10. ^ "Caritas". Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  11. ^ "Caritas Manila - History". Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  12. ^ "Caritas Jordan Humanitarian Respond towards Syrian Refugees in Jordan". Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  13. ^ "Temperature drop in Lebanon leaving Syrian refugees out in cold - Caritas Internationalis". Caritas Internationalis. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  14. ^ "What is Caritas?", Caritas Ukraine Archived 6 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "Caritas Canada". Development and Peace. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  16. ^ "Peacebuilding and reconciliation, Caritas Australia; accessed 19 November 2016.

External links


The Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD), previously known as the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development, is the Catholic aid agency for England and Wales. It is an international aid agency working to alleviate poverty and suffering in developing countries. It is funded by the Catholic community in England and Wales, the British Government and the general public by donations.CAFOD is an agency of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and part of the Caritas International Federation which operates in many countries and territories worldwide. CAFOD is a member of the DEC Disasters Emergency Committee and the British Overseas Aid Group. In 2010/11 it raised £69 million and employed 366 staff.

CAFOD is inspired by biblical teachings such as 'The Good Samaritan', 'The Golden Rule' etc. They also put adverts on TV to make people aware of what they are doing to help and try to get people to donate to them.

Caritas Catholica Belgica

Caritas Catholica Belgica is a Belgian confederation of Catholic relief, development and social service organizations operating in Flanders and Wallonia. The organization groups about 1,100 institutions active in healthcare in Belgium.

Caritas Europa

Caritas Europa is a European confederation of Catholic relief organization, development and social service organisations operating in Europe, founded in 1971 as Eurocaritas. The organisation was renamed Caritas Europa in 1992 and is one of the seven regions of Caritas Internationalis. The organisation's secretariat is in Brussels, Belgium.

Caritas Europa consists of 48 national member organisations that are working in 44 European countries. The member organisations are active in combating poverty and social exclusion, providing social and welfare services, dealing with migration and asylum issues, combating human trafficking, providing humanitarian aid in Europe and across the world, regional development, peace programs and projects around the world. Caritas Europa fosters cooperation and mutual learning among its member organisations and facilitates capacity building, joint advocacy and joint projects and programs.

Caritas Hong Kong

Caritas Hong Kong (Chinese: 香港明愛) is a charitable organisation, a member of Caritas Internationalis, founded by the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong in July 1953. It started with relief and rehabilitation services to the poor and the distressed after the Second World War. It nowaday expands to involve social service, education service, medical service, hospitality service and many others. It is led by Board of Management chairman Dominic Chan.

It is funded by the Hong Kong Government, Community Chest, other donations and fees on participants.

Caritas Pakistan

Caritas Pakistan opened in 1965 and has many years of humanitarian assistance in Pakistan. It is affiliated with Caritas Internationalis, a Roman Catholic humanitarian organisation and one of the largest networks dedicated to reducing poverty and injustice in the world.

Caritas Portugal

Caritas Portugal ("Cáritas Portuguesa" in Portugal) is the official Catholic's Church organization in Portugal for charity and social relief, instituted by the Portuguese Episcopal Conference.

Caritas Portuguesa was founded in 1945, with its first statutes were approved in 1956.

From the 50s to mid-70s, his activities have focused primarily on the distribution of food by the Portuguese population, donated by the United States and the host by Portuguese families, children from the countries of central Europe in the post World War II and the beginning of the tensions of the Cold War.

Caritas Spain

Caritas Spain ("Cáritas España" in Spanish) is the Catholic Church's official organization in Spain for charity and social relief, instituted by the Spanish Episcopal Conference.

On March 9, 1981 it was registered as a religious entity with Spain's Ministry of Justice.

Caritas Việt Nam

Caritas Việt Nam (Caritas Vietnam) is a Catholic charitable organization in Vietnam. This organization also called Charitable and Social Committee (Ủy ban Bác ái Xã hội), under the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam (CBCV) executive, and a member of Caritas International.

Catholic Relief Services

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is the international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. Founded in 1943 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the agency provides assistance to 130 million people in more than 90 countries and territories in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

A member of Caritas International, the worldwide network of Catholic humanitarian agencies, CRS provides relief in emergency situations and helps people in the developing world break the cycle of poverty through community-based, sustainable development initiatives as well as Peacebuilding. Assistance is based solely on need, not race, creed or nationality. Catholic Relief Services is headquartered in the Posner Building in Baltimore, Maryland, while operating numerous field offices on five continents. CRS has approximately 5,000 employees around the world. The agency is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of 13 clergy (most of them bishops) and 10 lay people.

Catholic Relief Services, Pakistan

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) first began its work in 1943. It is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency provides assistance to people in 99 countries and territories based on need, regardless of race, nationality or creed. Catholic Relief Services is a member of Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development and social service organizations operating in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. Caritas Internationalis is the official humanitarian agency of the global Catholic Church.

CRS has worked in Pakistan since 1954. CRS Pakistan has enhanced its emergency activities to respond to the drought, the Afghan refugee crisis and earthquake emergency response and rebuilding process. The CRS office is located in Islamabad and has 227 staff.


Cordaid is the Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid. It is one of the biggest international development organizations, with a network of hundreds of partner organizations in 31 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and has a disposable annual budget of around 115 million euros (2016). Cordaid directly employs almost 400 people, amongst them 182 are based in the Netherlands and the rest are stationed all over the world (2010).

Cordaid is also known under the names of the funds it manages: Cordaid Memisa, Cordaid Mensen in Nood (People in Need), Cordaid Bond Zonder Naam (Association Without Name), Cordaid Kinderstem (Children's Voice).

Development and Peace (Canada)

Development and Peace is the official international development arm of the Catholic Church in Canada. It is a member of Caritas Internationalis, and Halifax Initiative.

Palazzo San Callisto

The Palazzo San Callisto (also known as the Palace of Saint Callixtus) is a small palace in Rome and one of the extraterritorial Properties of the Holy See. The original Palazzo is located in the Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere, the later extensions have their entrance in Piazza di San Callisto. The entire complex is one of the areas of the Holy See regulated by the 1929 Lateran Treaty signed with the Kingdom of Italy. As such it has extraterritorial status.

The Palazzo San Callisto was named in honour of Pope Callixtus I and is now home to:

The Pontifical Council for the Laity

The Pontifical Council for the Family

Caritas Internationalis

The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

The International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services

and a number of other Catholic organisations that are part of or directly linked to the Holy See.In 1990, the Palazzo was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage Register.

Robert J. Vitillo

Msgr. Robert Joseph Vitillo (New Jersey, 1946) is the Secretary General of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC). Prior to that, Msgr. Vitillo has served in various high level functions in Catholic charitable agencies, including Caritas Internationalis and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. A trained social worker, he is known for his broad expertise on human migration and refugee services, child protection, social services, human rights, HIV/AIDS and global health.

Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund

The Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund, better known by its acronym SCIAF, is the official aid and development agency of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland. SCIAF works in 26 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America to help some of the poorest people in the world, regardless of religion, work their way out of poverty.

Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response

The Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR) is an alliance made up of chief executive officers representing nine humanitarian networks or agencies (CARE International, Caritas Internationalis, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, International Save the Children Alliance, Lutheran World Federation, Oxfam, ACT Alliance, and World Vision International).

Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi

Isao Kikuchi (菊地 功, Kikuchi Isao, born 1 November 1958) is a Japanese Roman Catholic prelate and professed member from the Divine Word Missionaries who has been serving as Archbishop of Tokyo since his appointment in 2017. He was a former worker in the missions of Ghana in Western Africa. Prior to his installation as Archbiship of Tokyo, he had served as the Bishop of Niigata since 2004 when he was first named as a bishop.Kikuchi serves as the current President of Caritas Japan as well as for Caritas Asia. He also serves as a member of the Representative Council of Caritas Internationalis.


Trócaire (Irish pronunciation: [ˈt̪ˠɾˠoːkəɾʲə], meaning "Compassion") is the official overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga

Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, S.D.B. (born December 29, 1942) is a Salesian and Cardinal of the Catholic Church from Honduras. He is the current Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, President of Caritas Internationalis and was President of the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM) from 1995 to 1999. Rodríguez was elevated to the cardinalate in 2001. He was the Vatican's spokesman with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, on the issue of Third World debt.

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