Caritas (charity)

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Caritas Internationalis
Founded 9 November 1897[1]
Founder Lorenz Worthmann
Focus Humanitarian aid, International development and social service
Area served Worldwide
Website Caritas Internationalis
St. Nicholas Orphanage, established by Caritas in Novosibirsk, Russia.

Caritas Internationalis is a confederation of 164 Roman Catholic relief, development and social service organisations operating in over 200 countries and territories worldwide.

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


In July 1924, during the Eucharistic World 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 Msgro 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.

In 1957, the Confederation changed its name to Caritas Internationalis to reflect the growing international presence of Caritas members on every continent. Today, the Confederation is one of the world's largest humanitarian networks with 164 members working in over 200 countries and territories. Its General Secretariat is located in the Palazzo San Calisto in Vatican City.

The President of Caritas Internationalis is Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga and the Secretary General is Michel Roy.

Caritas national and regional agencies[edit]

The full membership list of Caritas organisations includes:


45 national agencies in Sub-Saharan Africa


23 national agencies including:


Caritas Europa with 48 national agencies including:

North America, Central America and the Caribbean[edit]


6 regional agencies, including:

South America[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The History of Caritas in Germany". Caritas Deutschland. Retrieved 27 October 2012. 

External links[edit]