Tuesday, January 21, 2020


Charity service of the Catholic Church began at parishes. Later, a most important role in assisting the needy was played by monastic orders and congregations. Public charity organizations appeared in the 19th century.

The beginning of “Caritas” is associated with the publication of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum. Issued in 1891, it gave powerful impetus to lay social activities at Catholic churches. To centralize their work, the clergyman Lorenz Wertmann, the secretary of the archbishop, founded the first diocesan coordination centre “Caritas” in 1897 in Germany. Its main charitable efforts called “service in the spirit of caritas pastoralis (pastoral charity)” were initially directed at supporting Italian seasonal workers.

Later the name “Caritas” started to be given to all similar services and organizations springing up in other counties. After the Second World War national “Caritas” organizations were formed in practically every country of Europe and America. Their activities were centralized with the creation of the international confederation “Caritas Internationalis” in 1950 in the Vatican. At present “Caritas Internationalis” is the member of the Conference of International Catholic Organizations and the Pontifical Council “Cor unum”, has a consultative status with UNESCO and the other UN organizations, with the Council of Europe and the Organization of African Unity. 

Vitebsk Diocese

December 15, 1999 — His Excellency Bishop Vladislav Blin issued a decree on the creation of the Charitable Catholic Society “Caritas” of Vitebsk Diocese.

March 15, 2000 — the Charitable Catholic Society “Caritas” was registered with the State Committee for Religious and Ethnic Affaires of the Republic of Belarus.

The first office of Caritas was in the town of Novopolotsk. Its initial projects were:

  • reception and distribution of humanitarian aid;
  • sending children abroad (Poland and Austria) for rest and health improvement;
  • soup kitchens in the towns of Novopolotsk and Glubokoye;
  • Christmas and Easter actions.
2001 — the Diocese acquired an office for Caritas in Vitebsk.

Today Caritas, with the financial support of the citizens of the Republic of Belarus and foreign partners, cooperates with the Regional Centers for Social Services, children’s homes and shelters, nursing homes for elderly people, Health and Education establishments, public associations and provides assistance for needy individuals.

System Orphus