Caritas (charity)

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Caritas Internationalis
Founded 9 November 1897[1]
(117 years ago)
Founder Lorenz Worthmann
Focus Humanitarian aid, International development and social service
Area served
Key people

Luis Antonio Tagle, president

Michel Roy, CEO
Website Caritas Internationalis
St. Nicholas Orphanage, established by Caritas in Novosibirsk, Russia.

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 mission is to work to build a better world, especially for the poor and oppressed.[3] 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 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 growing international presence of Caritas members on every continent.[4] 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 Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle 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

  • Chad - SECADEV (Caritas Chad) has partnered with the Canadian bishops' Development and Peace program to provided essential aid for Sudanese refugees in Chad, including access to water, financing for small businesses and agricultural projects.[5]
  • Egypt - (part of MENA regional agency Caritas MONA)
  • Kenya - Caritas Nairobi- operated by the Archdiocese of Nairobi
  • Nigeria - Caritas Nigeria is working with local diocesan Caritas to bring relief to displaced families in the North East region displaced because of attacks by Boko Haram.[6]


23 national agencies including:


Nursery home of the German Caritas

Caritas Europa with 48 national agencies including:

North America, Central America and the Caribbean[edit]


6 regional agencies, including:

  • Australia - [4] Caritas Australia is involved in peacebuilding and reconciliation programs in Brazil, Sri Lanka, The Philippines, Papua New Guinea and elsewhere.[13]
  • New Zealand - Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Papua New Guinea - Caritas PNG
  • Caritas Samoa gives 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[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]