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Caritas Internationalis is a confederation of 162 Roman Catholic relief, development and social service organisations operating in over 200 countries and territories worldwide.Collectively and individually their mission is to work to build a better world, especially for the poor and oppressed.[162558]The first Caritas organisation was started in Freiburgmarker, Germany, in 1897. Other national Caritas organisations were soon formed in Switzerland (1901) and the United States (Catholic Charities, 1910).


July 1924, during the Eucharistic World Congress in Amsterdammarker, 60 delegates from 22 countries formed a conference, with headquarters at Caritas Switzerland in Lucernemarker. 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 Lucernemarker 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 Romemarker 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: Austriamarker, Belgiummarker, Canadamarker, Denmarkmarker, Francemarker, Germanymarker, The Netherlandsmarker, Italymarker, Luxembourgmarker, Portugalmarker, Spainmarker, Switzerlandmarker, and the United Statesmarker.

In 1957, the Confederation changed its name to Caritas Internationalis to reflect the growing international presence of Caritas members on every continent. Today, the Confederation is one of the world's largest humanitarian networks with 162 members working in over 200 countries and territories. Its General Secretariat is located in the Palazzo San Calistomarker in Vatican Citymarker.

The President of Caritas Internationalis is Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga and the Secretary General is Lesley-Anne Knight.

Caritas national and regional agencies

The full membership list of Caritas organisations includes:

Sub-Saharan Africa

45 national agencies


23 national agencies including:


Caritas Europa with 48 national agencies including:


Middle East and North Africa

MENA regional agency Caritas MONA with 17 national agencies including:


6 regional agencies, including:

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