General Assembly 2019

Welcome to Caritas’ General Assembly

Every four years the Caritas confederation comes together in Rome to review its progress and policies, to elect officials and to discuss and take key decisions for its future.

This General Assembly will work around a special theme


It seeks to define the Caritas mission of dignity, solidarity and stewardship and to embrace the vision of Pope Francis in caring for the Earth we all live in.

The Caritas Internationalis 21st General Assembly

Rome 23rd – 28th May 2019
Hotel Ergife, via Aurelia


Caritas believes change is possible – change that will make the world a fairer place while caring for all of creation.  We embrace the call of Pope Francis for new systems to replace the broken ones we have now, which have caused growing inequality, violent conflicts, a culture of waste, forced migration and devastating changes in our climate.

In his encyclical, Laudato Si, Pope Francis said, “These situations have caused sister Earth, along with all the abandoned of our world, to cry out, pleading that we take another course”.

One human family , one common home


The Caritas General Assembly theme – One Human Family, One Common Home – shares Pope Francis’ belief that we must hear “the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth”. We must care for one another and for our planet.  His encyclical, Laudato Si’, has become a powerful tool worldwide in prompting debate and action.

In keeping with this spirit, the Caritas General Assembly will be a green event, with the use of paper at an absolute minimum and at least half of all food vegetarian.

The General Assembly – held every four years – is the highest level of Caritas’ governance. Every Caritas member organisation, travelling from each of the confederation’s seven regions, is invited to send delegates, two of whom can vote to decide on policies and officials.

Together, at this General Assembly, they will elect representatives, including a new Caritas Internationalis Secretary General.  The delegates will reflect on the past four years and also discuss and approve a new Strategic Framework – Caritas’ action plan for the coming four.




What is the Caritas Internationalis General Assembly?

The General Assembly is Caritas’ highest internal governing body, made up of delegates sent by all 164 national member organisations of the Caritas confederation.  Every four years, the delegates ­– 2 from each member organisation who are often the President and the Secretary General – come together in Rome to reflect on the past four years of work and to set the course for the next four.  This is our 21st General Assembly.

Why is the General Assembly important and what are its aims?

The General Assembly is an essential space for the members of the Caritas confederation to meet, to share experiences and to discuss directions. Large and small, long-established and newly-formed members come together from all over the world to take key decisions, such as agreeing a new Strategic Framework and a Budget for the next four years.

The General Assembly also elects the Caritas Internationalis President, Treasurer, Secretary General and two Vice-Presidents. It ratifies the election of members of the Caritas Internationalis Representative Council, a governance body which meets frequently.

When will the 2019 General Assembly be held and where?

This Caritas Internationalis General Assembly will take place from the 23rd to 28th of May 2019. The new Caritas Women’s Forum and Caritas Youth Forum will meet for the first time on the 22nd of May. The General Assembly and the Forums will be held at the Hotel Ergife on via Aurelia in Rome.

Does this 2019 General Assembly have a particular theme?

“One Human Family, One Common Home” was chosen by a vote as the theme for the 2019 General Assembly. This reflects Caritas’ mission to protect both the poorest and most vulnerable people and the world we all live in.

It also encompasses the spirit of Pope Francis’ important encyclical, Laudato Si’, of caring for our common home. This will be a “green” General Assembly, with the absolute minimum of printed material, no visibility items and half of all meals to be fully vegetarian. Documents will be available electronically and hosted on the Caritas internal site, Baobab.

How will the spiritual dimension of Caritas be celebrated?

All delegates are invited to an opening mass with Pope Francis, while a mass from each region of the Caritas confederation will also be celebrated. Prayer cards specific to this General Assembly’s theme – “One Human Family, One Common Home – will be available. Every morning, Caritas Internationalis’ President, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, will animate a daily reflection with delegates.

Are the public and the press allowed to attend?

Members of the public can attend events if they are invited by Caritas. A press conference will be held on the 23rd May. Interviews with individual participants can also be arranged.

Where does the General Assembly sit in terms of the structure of Caritas?

The General Assembly is Caritas’s highest governing body, electing officials and reviewing and setting the direction of its work. On a day to day basis, the General Secretariat of the Caritas confederation is based in the Vatican City, coordinating emergency response, policy and advocacy, communications, international representation and capacity building.

The General Secretariat also has international delegations at the United Nations in New York and in Geneva. Caritas’ Representative Council and Executive Board most often meet at the Rome General Secretariat. Their formation is overseen by the General Assembly.

In 164 countries and territories around the world, national Caritas organisations are linked to their bishop’s conferences. They commit to good governance, transparency and accountability as members of Caritas Internationalis.

St Peter’s Square
23rd May , 12.30pm

Share the Journey

An interactive mosaic of faces will be created in St. Peter’s Square. Caritas President, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, will lay the first face – that of his own migrant grandfather and write a message.

General Assembly delegates from each Caritas region will follow, along with two migrants representing Caritas Roma.

Share the Journey is Caritas’ two-year campaign in support of migrants and refugees. It is based in the vision and teaching of Pope Francis, to create and celebrate a “culture of encounter”.

The Strategic Framework

The Strategic Framework 2019-2023 reflects the work Caritas member organisations want to do together as a confederation, operating through its international and regional structures. The Strategic Framework is based around Caritas’ five Strategic Orientations.

Strategic Orientation 1

Caritas at the heart of the Church

Serve out of love

“How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor!” – Pope Francis

Caritas Internationalis and its national organisations are social pastoral instruments of the Catholic Church. We are entrusted with the mission of promoting integral human development in the light of the Gospel and Catholic teachings. We work in communion to build flourishing communities with the participation of all their members, particularly those living in poverty. We promote dialogue among people, cultures, and religions to challenge the culture of indifference and waste while promoting peace, reconciliation, and justice.

Strategic Orientation 2

Reduce risk, save lives, rebuild communities

Reduce the impact of humanitarian crises by enhancing disaster preparedness and response

“Serving means working beside the neediest of people, establishing with them first and foremost human relationships of closeness and bonds of solidarity.” – Pope Francis

Caritas animates people and communities so that they can organise themselves to face disasters and be better prepared to cope with them. It provides rapid, high-quality and coordinated responses to humanitarian crises. This is achieved by supporting local, national, and regional Caritas efforts to save lives, relieve suffering, provide protection and begin immediate planning for rehabilitation and recovery. Building on the experiences of locally-led emergency responses, Caritas informs humanitarian policy and practice on the national and international level to mitigate the effect of future disasters.

Strategic Orientation 3

Promote sustainable integral human development and care for creation

Eradicate all forms of poverty by empowering communities, transforming unjust structures, and caring for creation

Love for society and commitment to the common good are outstanding expressions of a charity which affects not only relationships between individuals but also ….social, economic and political ones.” – Pope Francis

Caritas accompanies people living in poverty, the marginalised, and the excluded by being present in their lives and listening to their unique needs. Caritas promotes and advocates collective actions so individuals can empower themselves, engage in developing their own means of livelihood, and influence the systems and decisions that affect them. Upholding human rights and inspired by integral ecology, Caritas hears the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor, advocating so that everyone has access to essential social services and basic rights within a framework of good governance.

Strategic Orientation 4

Build global solidarity

Amplify the voices of the poor through coordinated communication, public education, and campaigning

“I pray that you may involve in your efforts those whom you seek to help; give them a voice, listen to their stories, learn from their experiences and understand their needs. See in them a brother and a sister, a son and a daughter, a mother and a father” – Pope Francis

Caritas calls for global solidarity with those inflicted by injustice. By transforming the hearts and minds of society, Caritas influences policy and reduces prejudice while enhancing Caritas’ visibility as a transformational force of positive social change.

Strategic Orientation 5

Increase the effectiveness of the Caritas confederation

Build a stronger Caritas based on professionalism, the mobilisation of resources, and the involvement of women and youth

“Individuals who care for those in need must first be professionally competent…these charity workers need ‘a formation of the heart’.” – Pope Benedict

Caritas enhances organisational expertise and standards to efficiently respond to the need for quality service with those living in poverty, the marginalised, and the vulnerable. We are accountable, financially sustainable, compassionate, and work professionally in diverse cultural settings and in fraternal cooperation with the people we serve. Caritas supports the training of staff members, with a focus on professional, pastoral, and relational knowledge and skills. Caritas creates an organisational environment where women and young people have greater leadership opportunities.

How the 2019-2023 Strategic Framework has been developed

The Strategic Framework was developed in stages, placing the contributions of all Caritas organisations at the core.

Following a review of the preceding strategy for Caritas’ operations, regional Caritas bodies and a specially-appointed committee considered an initial draft of the Strategic Framework.

After presentation to the Representative Council, it was sent to all member organisations.  The Representative Council and the Executive Board approved it in March 2019.

Final approval will be at the General Assembly, where making it operational at the national, regional and international levels will be discussed by delegates in small groups.