Caritas is Church

How Caritas is structured

The Church as a community must practice love.

Pope Francis says, “a Church without charity does not exist”. Caritas shares the mission of the Church. It’s an ordered service to the community.

Inspired by Gospel values and the Catholic Social Teaching, Caritas responds to disasters, promotes integral human development and advocates on the causes of poverty and conflict.

Caritas is organised at local (parish), diocesan, national, regional and international level.

National Caritas organisations are each autonomous under their bishops, but they combine as part of the Caritas Internationalis confederation, which is a body of the Universal Church.

Caritas Internationalis was created in the 1950’s with the aim to promote greater coordination, communication and cooperation among the members present in various countries all over the world.

Caritas Internationalis translates as ‘love between peoples’ and it’s a reflection of the love shared and witnessed between and by its more than 160 national members.

Caritas works with the poor, vulnerable and excluded, regardless of race or religion. This work requires professional competence as well as a “formation of heart” which testifies to a faith expressed through charity.
Pope Benedict XVI praised Caritas during his pontificate, saying it “has rightly earned the esteem and trust of the faithful and of many other people around the world for its generous and consistent witness of faith and its concrete ability to respond to the needs of the poor.”

Pope Francis says that Caritas is “an essential part of the Church” and that it “institutionalizes love in the Church”. He said Caritas has two dimensions: action and a divine dimension “situated in the heart of the Church”.

He says, “Caritas is the caress of the Church to its people, the caress of the Mother Church to her children, her tenderness and closeness.”

Key documents

Council Vatican II documents
Populorum Progressio
Deus Caritas Est
Caritas in Veritate
Chirograph letter : Durante l’Ultima Cena
Caritas general decree
Statutes and Rules of Caritas Internationalis
Motu Proprio’ Intima Ecclesiae Natura of Pope Benedict XVI on the Service of Charity.
Caritas: Serving out of love
CI Safeguarding and complaints handling mechanisms