Caritas Internationalis

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Caritas Internationalis
Founded9 November 1951
FounderLorenz Werthmann
FocusHumanitarian aid, International development and social service
HeadquartersVatican City
Area served
Secretary General
Alistair Dutton [1]
Key people
Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, President
Ms. Kirsty Robertson, Vice-President

Caritas Internationalis (Latin for "Charity International") is a confederation of over 160[2] Catholic relief, development and social service organizations operating in over 200 countries and territories worldwide.

Collectively and individually, their missions are to work to build a better world, especially for the poor and oppressed[3] to end poverty, promote justice and restoring dignity.[4] The first Caritas organization was established by Lorenz Werthmann on 9 November 1897 in Freiburg (headquarters for Germany).[5] Other national Caritas organizations 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 Luzern. 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 were convened in Luzern 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 organizations at the international level, especially at the United Nations. The Holy Year in 1950 saw the beginning of a union of Caritas organizations. Following a suggestion by Monsignor 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 organizations 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".[6]

In 1954, the Confederation changed its name to Caritas Internationalis to reflect the international presence of Caritas members on every continent.[6] 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 Aloysius John.[7]

After World War Two, Caritas was implicated in assisting Franz Stangl, a supervisor at the Hartheim Euthanasia Centre which was the early Nazi euthanasia programme responsible for the deaths of over 70,000 mentally ill or physically deformed people in Germany, in his escape to Syria. After Stangl made his way to Rome from Linz, the Caritas relief agency provided him with a Red Cross passport and a boat ticket to Syria.[8]

Caritas national and regional agencies[edit]

The full membership list of Caritas organizations includes:


Including 45 national agencies in Sub-Saharan Africa:

  • Algeria – Caritas Algérie. Open since 1962, it ceased its activities in 1 October 2022.[9]
  • 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.[10]
  • Egypt – Caritas Egypt (part of a Middle East and Africa (MENA) regional agency), founded and recognised by the Egyptian government in 1967.[11]
  • 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.[12]
  • Uganda – Caritas Uganda (founded in 1970)[13]


The Caritas House in Caine Road, Mid-levels, Hong Kong

24 national agencies including:


Nursery home of the German Caritas

Caritas Europa with 49 national agencies including:

St. Nicholas Orphanage, established by Caritas in Novosibirsk, Russia

North America, Central America and the Caribbean[edit]


Regional body Caritas Oceania, with seven member agencies including:

  • Australia – Caritas Australia claims involvement in peacebuilding and reconciliation programs in Brazil, Sri Lanka, The Philippines, Papua New Guinea and elsewhere.[26]
  • Fiji – Caritas Fiji operates through the Archdiocese of Suva, and conducts humanitarian and development projects within Fiji.[27]
  • New Zealand – Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand grew out of Catholic overseas aid organisations in New Zealand in the 1960s, adopting its present name in 1998.[28] With a focus on the Pacific, it provides development aid to Cambodia, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, and within New Zealand; while also providing humanitarian aid in response to disasters worldwide.[29]
  • Pacific Islands – CEPAC Commission for Justice and Development (CCJD),[30] known as Caritas Pacific Islands,[31] became a member of Caritas Internationalis in 1983, and is responsible for 19 states and territories across the Pacific.
  • Papua New Guinea – Caritas PNG was established in 1974,[32] and runs development and education projects within Papua New Guinea.[33]
  • Samoa – 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]
  • Tonga – Caritas Tonga became a member of Caritas Internationalis in 2002, and focuses on education and freshwater provision within Tonga.[34]

South America[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Caritas.Retrieved 2023-06-05.
  2. ^ a b "Who We Are". Caritas. Retrieved 2023-06-05.
  3. ^ "Caritas Internationalis". Archived from the original on May 9, 2007.
  4. ^ "Caritas ending poverty, promoting justice and restoring dignity". 2016-10-10. Retrieved 2024-01-27.
  5. ^ "The History of Caritas in Germany". Caritas Deutschland. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  6. ^ a b "History - Caritas Internationalis". Caritas Internationalis. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Caritas Internationalis elects Michel Roy as new Secretary General". Catholic World Report. 26 May 2011. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  8. ^ Levy, Alan (2006) [1993]. Nazi Hunter: The Wiesenthal File (Revised 2002 ed.). London: Constable & Robinson. ISBN 978-1-84119-607-7.
  9. ^ Henning, Christophe; Eblotié, Guy Aimé (2022-09-28). "En Algérie, les autorités ordonnent la fermeture de la Caritas". La Croix (in French). ISSN 0242-6056. Archived from the original on 2022-09-28. Retrieved 2022-09-28.
  10. ^ "Sudan/Darfur". Development and Peace. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  11. ^ "Caritas Egypt". Caritas. Retrieved 2023-02-17.
  12. ^ "Boko Haram threatens Nigeria's Home of Peace - Caritas Internationalis". Caritas Internationalis. 11 September 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  13. ^ "Caritas Uganda". Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  14. ^ "Myanmar". Caritas. Retrieved 6 September 2023.
  15. ^ "Karuna Mission Social Solidarity". Caritas Myanmar. Retrieved 6 September 2023.
  16. ^ "Caritas India sees surge in local donors". Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  17. ^ "Caritas". Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  18. ^ "Caritas Mongolia". Archived from the original on 2022-01-24.
  19. ^ "NASSA/Caritas Philippines - About Us". Retrieved 11 May 2022.
  20. ^ "Caritas Manila - History". Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  21. ^ "Caritas Jordan Humanitarian Respond towards Syrian Refugees in Jordan". Archived from the original on 4 April 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  22. ^ "Temperature drop in Lebanon leaving Syrian refugees out in cold - Caritas Internationalis". Caritas Internationalis. 14 December 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  23. ^ Caritas Ukraine, Caritas in Ukraine, accessed 5 June 2022
  24. ^ Caritas-Spes Ukraine, [1]
  25. ^ "Caritas Canada". Development and Peace. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  26. ^ "Peacebuilding and reconciliation, Caritas Australia; accessed 19 November 2016.
  27. ^ "About". Caritas Fiji. 17 November 2021. Retrieved 6 September 2023.
  28. ^ "Our History". Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand. Retrieved 5 September 2023.
  29. ^ "Where We Work". Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand. Retrieved 5 September 2023.
  30. ^ "Commissions". CEPAC. Retrieved 6 September 2023.
  31. ^ "Pacific Islands". Caritas. Retrieved 6 September 2023.
  32. ^ "Profile". Caritas PNG. Retrieved 6 September 2023.
  33. ^ "Our Projects". Caritas PNG. Retrieved 6 September 2023.
  34. ^ "Tonga". Caritas. Retrieved 6 September 2023.

External links[edit]