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|Founded||9 November 1897
(120 years ago)
|Focus||Humanitarian aid, International development and social service|
|Luis Antonio Tagle, president|
Collectively and individually their claimed mission is to work to build a better world, especially for the poor and oppressed. The first Caritas organisation was established by Lorenz Werthmann on 9 November 1897 in Germany. 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”.
In 1954, the Confederation changed its name to Caritas Internationalis to reflect the international presence of Caritas members on every continent. As of 2015, the Confederation has 164 members working in over 200 countries and territories. Its General Secretariat is located in the Palazzo San Calisto, Vatican City. The current president is Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and the Secretary General is Michel Roy.
The full membership list of Caritas organisations includes:
45 national agencies in Sub-Saharan Africa
24 national agencies including:
Caritas Europa with 48 national agencies including:
6 regional agencies, including: