Fraterna Ayuda Cristiana was founded in the archdiocese of Buenos Aires in 1956 and gradually such associations began to spring up in other dioceses under the same name that would later change to Caritas, in agreement with Caritas Internationalis. Caritas Argentina had special features: its grassroots in the parishes, its large number of volunteers and its efforts to raise funds from the community. In 1986 the Bishops’ Conference approved the Statutes of Caritas Argentina as an organisation of the Church that would coordinate its official charitable activities.
In the mid-1970s, the majority of Latin American Caritas dedicated most of their efforts to immediate assistance, especially food, medicines and clothing. This trend started to change in Argentina in the early 1980s, when the need arose to for a greater focus on integral human development and for people to participate and play important roles in the various projects.
Today the organisation consists of 66 diocesan Caritas, supplemented by commissions or working teams. The Caritas centres in the 3,500 existing parishes are assisted by approximately 32 000 volunteers, who carry out programmes regarding education, health, nutrition, and support in the event of natural disaster throughout the country.
Each year, the National Commission of Caritas Argentina carries out the following promotion and fundraising activities:
the Annual Caritas Collection, during the second weekend of June, with a significant media presence in the streets and in public spaces;
the Christmas campaign, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, concentrating on Advent, Christmas Day and the New Year. The whole country mobilizes to carry out activities.
During 2016, in order to accompany pregnant women and children from 0 to 6 years of age, pastoral work in favour of early childhood formalized at the Bishop Conference level within the Education Area, which had been working steadily for ten years with children and families from the most vulnerable national communities. Twelve diocesan Caritas were organized for a pilot experience and then 18 other Caritas joined the project, so that the year closed with the expected goal of 30 national dioceses in this training path. At the same time, with the aim of offering a response to the challenge of drug abuse, the National Commission of Caritas Argentina created the Area of Pastoral and Community Approach of Addictions (APyCA). The intervention methodology will be focused on the strategy of the Centros Barriales, also known as Homes of Christ, which operate in different parts of the country and are part of the National Pastoral on Addiction and Drug Dependence.
Caritas Argentina is currently working actively with written and television media, National Institutes of Technology and Agriculture and Livestock, Universidad Católica Argentina, government ministries, private companies and La Casa Rosada. In past years, it has worked with UNICEF, the Rotary Club of Montserrat and the University of Salvador, among others.
Humanity isn’t made up of the most powerful leaders, the richest people or the people who shout the loudest. Caritas has created a giant collage of faces which includes many different and contrasting faces as part of its Share the Journey campaign on the culture of encounter.
More than 400 people from 146 Caritas organisations gathered in Rome for the 21st Caritas General Assembly, an event designed for delegates to come together in solidarity and decide new ways to serve the most vulnerable around the world.