New Caritas president focuses on restoring stability and women’s representation

New Caritas president

Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican’s prominent charity, has elected Japanese Archbishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi of Tokyo as its new president.

The election follows a period of turmoil that led Pope Francis to remove the previous leadership team. Caritas Internationalis is keen to build a future and wants to move forward together.

Archbishop Kikuchi takes over from a highly regarded predecessor, Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.

Kikuchi’s involvement with Caritas dates back to 1995, when he began as a volunteer at a refugee camp in Bukavu, now part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He later served as the executive director and president of Caritas Japan from 1994 to 2004 and 2007 to 2022, respectively. Additionally, he was president of Caritas Asia from 2011 to 2019 and was a member of various Caritas committees.

Before becoming president, Kikuchi served as the Archbishop of Tokyo since 2017.

His early years as a missionary in Ghana acquainted him with the challenges faced by remote communities, aligning well with Caritas’s work in serving marginalised populations.

First woman vice president

During the announcement of the new leadership team, the attention focused on Kirsty Robertson, who assumed the role of Caritas Internationalis’s first woman vice president.

Robertson, the head of Caritas Australia, emphasised the significance of women’s representation at all levels of the organisation.

“It is only right and just, I think, to see the face of women at all levels in our confederation,” she told reporters.

“The face of poverty is the face of a woman.”

The newly appointed secretary-general, Alistair Dutton, who will lead the daily operations of Caritas Internationalis expressed a forward-looking attitude, emphasising the importance of learning from the past and focusing on the future.

He says that it is time the Church’s global charity network focused on its mission of helping the world’s poor.

Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, he pointed to situations like the wars in Ukraine and Sudan and the recent earthquake in Syria and Turkey.

Dutton told the journalists that these are the kinds of situations where Caritas needs to focus its efforts and supply Christian humanitarian assistance.

Dutton replaces Aloysius John, a French citizen of Indian descent who was ousted in November after staff at the Caritas headquarters complained of a toxic work environment.

On the eve of the general assembly, John accused the Vatican of staging a “brutal power grab” fuelled by a “colonialist” attitude of northern, wealthy Caritas chapters over poorer ones in the developing world.

As Archbishop Kikuchi assumes his new role, he has urged Caritas staff and volunteers to be witnesses of God’s love in all their endeavours, whether in administration or in the field.


AP News

Crux Now

CathNews New Zealand

La Croix International

Additional reading

News category: Palmerston, World.

Tags: , , ,