Caritas marks 60 years of work with the poor at General Assembly

Caritas believes zero poverty is possible if we act as one human family. Credits: Caritas

Caritas believes zero poverty is possible if we act as one human family.
Credits: Caritas

Caritas Internationalis members from across the world will send representatives to their 19th General Assembly in Rome at the end of May to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the confederation. Over 300 delegates will also agree on plans to strengthen their service working alongside and on behalf of the poor.

Caritas Internationalis was founded in 1951 by 13 Catholic charities to better coordinate the Church’s humanitarian work. They received support from Msgr Giovanni Battista Montini, who would become Pope Paul VI in 1963.

The Caritas confederation has since grown to 165 members comprising the humanitarian relief and social development arms of national bishops conferences worldwide. Caritas members support millions of poor people in improving their own lives with international programmes ranging from disaster risk reduction, relief and reconstruction, peacebuilding and reconciliation, climate mitigation and food security, primary health care and education.

Caritas Internationalis President Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga said, “Caritas Internationalis is immensely privileged to be at the heart of the Church and her life-giving cycle of love. We are celebrating 60 years of responding through our faith with practical action to human suffering in an unjust world.

“In the second decade of the 21st century, however, we face a series of challenges that threaten to halt or even reverse that progress. Hunger is increasing, the number of humanitarian emergencies is growing, and climate change will cause further harm.

“Caritas has a vision for our world as one human family where no one dies because of poverty and injustice. For this reason, over the coming years we will strive to fulfil that vision. The theme of our work and our General Assembly is One Human Family, Zero Poverty.”

The General Assembly comes at an important moment for Caritas Internationalis. The confederation’s Statutes and Rules are in the process of being renewed with the Holy See.

Caritas members at the General Assembly will hear from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone SDB, the Secretary of State to the Holy See and Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum on Sunday 22 May.

On Monday 23 May, they will also be addressed by Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, by Fr Raniero Cantalamessa OFM Cap, the preacher to the Pontifical Household, and by canon lawyers Bishop Juan Arrieta and Msgr. Osvaldo Nieves de Almeida.

Delegates will be received in an audience with the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI on Friday 27 May.

Caritas delegates will elect the Caritas Internationalis president, treasurer and secretary-general for the next four years and representatives for its board and executive committees.

Read our Q&A.

Note to editors: The General Assembly is taking place at Domus Mariae Palazzo Carpegna in Rome 22 to 27 May. It is open to journalists with press accreditation or by prior arrangement on Sunday 22 May from 15.00 to 19.45. Speeches will be available on request. Please contact Michelle Hough +39 06 69879752/+39 334 2344136 or


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