Caritas Internationalis has elected Aloysius John as the new secretary general for a mandate of four years.
The election came at the end of the Catholic network’s four-day General Assembly held in Rome, during which Philippine Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, was reconfirmed as president.
Aloysius John, aged 62, has been working at the Rome office of Caritas Internationalis since 2010, most recently as head of institutional development and capacity building. Born in India, he is a citizen of France where he has lived and worked for the national Caritas agency most of his life.
During the General Assembly, Pope Francis received the Caritas delegation in private audience at the Vatican and celebrated Mass with them in Saint Peter’s basilica. During the audience, the Pope told the 450 delegates that charity is an experience of Christ and must not be transformed into a business or something people do to ease their conscience.
"In the service of charity is at stake the vision of man, who cannot be reduced to a single aspect but involves the whole human being as a child of God, created in his image," Francis said.
"The poor are above all persons, and their faces conceal that of Christ himself. They are his flesh, signs of his crucified body, and we have the duty to reach them," he said.
For the first time, the General Assembly included a youth and women’s forum, intended to look at increasing the roles of women in leadership and the participation of youth within the Caritas confederation, Caritas said.
Four new member organisations also joined the confederation. Caritas Fiji and Caritas Kyrgyzstan joined as new members. Caritas Colombia rejoined the network and CHARIS joined as oversees aid arm of Caritas Singapore.
To mark the close of the assembly, all members of Caritas reaffirmed their commitment "to build a world where God is recognised as love, justice and peace; where solidarity is embraced by all, so there are no more excluded, exploited or abused; where all people live with dignity and where all of creation is cherished in our common home."