The prelate began as a volunteer for Caritas in 1995, and now leads the entire charity organization.
Just one verse each day.
Caritas Internationalis, the Church’s international relief organization, has elected Archbishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi, of the Archdiocese of Tokyo, Japan, as the worldwide organization’s new president. The election was held after a year of temporary leadership, put into place by Pope Francis, and revisions to the organization’s statutes.
According to the Vatican News announcement, the election was held on Saturday, May 13. Archbishop Kikuchi will serve a four-year term as the leader of the Catholic charitable confederation, which includes some 162 Catholic organizations of relief, development, and social services. In the United States, Catholic Relief Services is the organization’s affiliate.
Caritas, which responds to thousands of situations of poverty, oppression and natural disasters, is active in 200 countries worldwide, and ranks second among humanitarian aid organizations, just behind the Red Cross.
In his first address as President of Caritas, Archbishop Kikuchi commented:
“Caritas must be in the front line to receive, accompany, serve and defend the poor and vulnerable. This mission must be upheld and capture all attentions of the Members of the Confederation, and I would like to be the one to lead entire organization to fulfill this important mission of the Church together with the Secretary General. All are invited to walk together.”
The works of Caritas are well known to Archbishop Kikuchi, who began his time with the international aid organization in 1995, when he was freshly ordained. Along with serving as a rural missionary priest in Ghana from 1995 to 2003, he also volunteered for Caritas’s work in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo (then known as Zaire). From 1999 to 2004, he served as president of Caritas Japan, only to be given the position of President of Caritas Asia, from 2011 to 2019.
“This is the real mission of Caritas: to help people know they are not forgotten,” Archbishop Kikuchi continued, “What we do is not only provide food or materials or any kind of assistance, but rather we want to be witnesses of the love of God to show people that this is how God loves all people.”
A report from Catholic Review highlighted some of Caritas’ most recent efforts to lend aid to those displaced by the war in Ukraine. Tetiana Stanwnychy, president of Caritas Ukraine, explained that since February 2022, many of the Ukrainian Caritas volunteers have needed to lean on the organization themselves.
The works of Caritas in Ukraine have included standard humanitarian aid – like food, clothing, and shelter – but they have also begun “social cohesion” initiatives, which will bring Ukrainians together to help each other work through the traumas of the last year. In Ukraine, Caritas is active in an estimated 40 centers and 500 parishes.