Caritas is the Latin equivalent word for charity. The Caritas organization was founded in 1897 in Freiburg, Germany.
In 1972, the Jesuit priest Elie Maamari founded Caritas South Lebanon, in collaboration with South Lebanon Catholic bishops, to help the population of this area. Following the outbreak of the civil war in 1975, the organization expanded to become Caritas Lebanon.
In 1981, the Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon approved Caritas’ status and designated it as the socio-pastoral arm of the Church.
Slowly, Caritas expanded and established branch offices throughout Lebanon to meet increasing social needs. Following this decentralization, Caritas Lebanon created specialized sectors which responded to the specific needs of each area. Caritas Lebanon respects the decentralization and the local autonomy of its sector offices. Yet it encourages coordination and information exchange with the Head Office located in Beirut.
Caritas Lebanon is a member of Caritas Internationalis, a worldwide confederation which figures among the world’s largest humanitarian networks, counting 162 Catholic organizations working in 200 different countries and territories.
Based upon the Gospel’s love, Caritas Lebanon has a double-purpose mission:
· Caritas is appointed by the Church to help people in need and restore their human dignity, regardless of their political, religious or social beliefs.
· Caritas seeks to awaken a spirit of solidarity among Lebanese and to encourage the wealthier segments of society to help the poorest.
Before taking any action, Caritas refers to the core values that are its moral foundation, mainly inspired by the Gospel:
· Human dignity
This is the basic value at Caritas. Throughout its various missions, Caritas Lebanon attempts to give back to human beings the dignity of being God’s child regardless of their religion or political position, whether prisoner or migrant, child or adult, sick or marginalized. Caritas Lebanon fiercely fights social exclusion or discrimination in all its forms and is ready to help all those in need.
· Special concern for the poor
“I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink.” Caritas Lebanon responds to the Gospel’s call by humbly serving the disadvantaged and the needy.
· Fostering self-reliance
While respecting the principle of urgent priority, since the end of the disastrous civil war, Caritas Lebanon has been working on developing a sense of responsibility and involvement among poor persons to restore their place in Lebanese society.
Caritas Lebanon shows a particular concern for the development of individuals and local communities to help them become self-reliant and autonomous. Caritas Lebanon endeavors to transform simple beneficiaries into faithful partners.
Caritas Lebanon strives to sow solidarity amongst the Lebanese population. It challenges every social stratum to create a fairer and better society by encouraging people to share with others.
Caritas Lebanon guarantees all contributors and donors strict and full transparency. Aware of its responsibility towards the Church, the donors and the poor, Caritas publishes an annual report that displays its resources, gives figures and shows the management of the financial resources entrusted.
Caritas Lebanon works in close collaboration with the Caritas Confederation and other national and international organizations.
This partnership takes many forms, including financial assistance, sponsoring projects, and sharing experiences and information, in addition to discussion forums. Caritas Lebanon also cooperates with the Lebanese Government and the Ministries of Social Affairs, Health, Education, Agriculture, etc.