Who we are
Caritas Asia is one of the seven Regional Offices under the Confederation of Caritas Internationalis (CI). Its establishment came about when the Asian members of the confederation decided to establish a regional office in Asia, during the General Assembly of CI in 1999 in Rome. With the endorsement and approval of the CI General Assembly on the same year, Caritas Asia was subsequently constituted as the regional office of the CI confederation in Asia. Since then, CA has been serving as the regional coordinating office of all the member organizations operating in countries and territories in the Asian continent.
Where we are in Asia
“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”
Two days International conference was organized in Yangon on 24 & 25th January 2020 to discuss how the church can engage effectively in addressing the most heinous crime against humanity. The Conference brought together the different church agencies like Santa Marta Group, Caritas Internationalis, Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference, International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), Migrants and Refugees Section from Dicastery on Integral Development to discuss and plan how we can better fight against trafficking in persons and do it in cooperation with different stakeholders. For Caritas Asia, it was a great platform to share the work at the international level with other sister organizations.
The conference began with the opening mass by Most Rev. Lumen Monteiro, Bishop of Agartala, Chairman of Caritas India along with His Eminence Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, from Yangon and His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of Santa Marta Group. Cardinal Vincent Nichols in his keynote address said that “we need to give first place to the victim. Our approach should be victim-centric and keep the victim at the heart of all our intervention because the victim bears the mind of Christ.” He added that the work against trafficking must be carried forward in partnership and that’s why we are here to build the partnership among Church agencies.
The root causes for unsafe migration and trafficking is extreme poverty, lack of birth certificate and other important documents, business which looks at the only profit and the demand side, said Mgs. Robert Vitillo. There are also other causes like conflicts that make people vulnerable to leave their country and land.
The Social Welfare Minister from Myanmar presented that they have singed MoU between Thailand and Myanmar to prevent unsafe migration and labor exploitation. The work by the government was much appreciated by all.
International Organization for Migration called the Church to focus on collecting the evidence, strategy, and coordination and improving the programs that are implemented. The Church can engage with international law enforcement agencies to combat human trafficking.
Caritas India had an opportunity to present the work against human trafficking at the conference focusing on trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced marriage. Ms. Leeza shared that Caritas India is working at the Indo Nepal border with international as well as internal trafficking in persons and unsafe migration. In the last one year, 62 girls have been provided with a short stay at the transit home located in Nepalganj, Nepal. Caritas India works very closely with Sahastra Seema Bal (border force), local police and Non-Government Organizations. An Indo Nepal Cross Border Forum has been initiated to bring the different stakeholders to strengthen the rescue, referral and repatriation process.
The conference provided the platform for the Caritas Asia team to come together and discuss their plan of action. South Asia team got together along with the Asia coordinator and discussed the ways to strengthen the coordination between the countries of South Asia. Hence, it was suggested to have a meeting in the month of February in Nepal to take the process forward. It was decided that Ms. Leeza from Caritas India will lead the coordination process along with focal persons from Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The key action points that came out of the conference were-
The conference also invited us to look at our own ways of purchasing and use of things in our day to day life. How can we prevent human trafficking by taking a small step?
“The truth is, slavery touches the lives of most of us in this room every day through the supply chains of the goods and services we purchase. Do you own a phone or a computer? Clothing? Shoes? Do you drink coffee or tea? Do you wear jewelry or makeup? Do you buy seafood, pet food, meat, fruit, and vegetables or eat fast food? You and I cannot deny that we benefit from the exploitation of other human beings largely because they are invisible to us.” (John McCarthy Chair Sydney Archdiocesan Anti-Slavery Taskforce)
The words of Cardinal inspired me and made me reflect when he said, “Trafficked Drug is used only once but trafficked person is used again and again and again.”
A reflection by Dr. Benedict D’ Rozario, President of Caritas Asia
Retreat can be, His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said, of two types - one is of total silence.
“Do you want a Retreat of total silence?”, he asked us the participants coming from the Asian Countries.
"No", said I, without thinking much.
So, in our daily schedule of three-days Retreat on 7-9 October 2019 at the Camillian Centre, Bangkok had an important item - Group Sharing - after supper, from 8 pm. The daily schedule had also sessions followed by individual reflection besides prayers, Rosary and Holy Mass. Caritas Directors in Asia as participants had their best three days with reflection and recollection with the help, guidance and sharing of His Eminence Cardinal Tagle. His Eminence Cardinal Tagle based his sharing on the Homily (on 23 May 2019) of the Holy Father for the participants for the 21st Caritas Internationalis General Assembly and the Address during audience (on 27 May 2019) of His Holiness Pope Francis to Participants of the same General Assembly.
During the three days of Retreat in Bangkok through different sessions and homilies His Eminence Cardinal Tagle helped the participants to understand the deeper meaning of what His Holiness Pope Francis wanted to say using the following words and phrases:
His Eminence Cardinal Tagle 's sharing on commodity and personal views of life from the book - Following Christ in a Consumerist Society by John F. Kavanaugh - was very inspiring. This book helps us to know how culture of consumerism shape our views of life ignoring totally the personalism of the Gospel. At the end of the third day His Eminence Cardinal Tagle wanted us to reflect individually on what influences us the most - that I am a person and a gift from the God or I am an object? Do we accept everyone as a gift from the God? Everything as a gift from Him? I must ponder for days for the questions herein and other similar questions through which he challenged us all.
Sincere thanks and deep gratitude to His Eminence Cardinal Tagle.
Caritas Asia organized a 3-days regional retreat for Asian Caritas Directors and was attended by 36 Participants of 21 MOs, Church in Malaysia, and M&R Section from 7-9 October 2019 at Camilian Center, Thailand.
Caritas Asia once again participated in the 3rd National Interfaith Forum Against Human Trafficking in Cambodia. This forum, which was organized jointly by Caritas Cambodia, and the national government of Cambodia, is probably one of the successful examples of multi stakeholders collaboration in the region where the national government, non-government organizations, and faith leaders work tirelessly together promoting awareness on combatting human trafficking.
The 3rd Interfaith Forum was held in Phnom Penh on 14 August 2019 which attracted approximately 1,700 participants from the royal government of Cambodia, NGOs, Caritas family and the four main religious groups in Cambodia. Besides exhibition, official ceremony and key note speeches, the forum this year added a solidarity walk from Botum Vordtey Pagoda towards the main venue at Koh Pich building.
In his speech, Caritas Asia President, Dr. Benedict D’Rozario, emphasized on the fact that poverty is one of the main causes of human trafficking, which we can overcome by well-planned development interventions including education, health and livelihood supports and employment creation through skills and vocational training. This message was reiterated by Samdech Krola Hom Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior and the Chair of National Committee to Counter Trafficking in Persons (NCCT), who added the need to strengthen law enforcement, government commitment and involvement, and co-operation from all relevant sectors.
Approximately 37 participants of Caritas family of 13 Caritas Members Organizations in Asia and 9 church organizations in Asia and Australia joined the forum and was combined with exposure and learning visits in the next day. Participants of Caritas family visited and learned from NCCT, Ministry of Social Affairs, Cambodian Women Crisis Center and Agape International Mission on the national initiatives to combat human trafficking from the perspectives of government and non-government organizations.
“Cooperation and coordination among the national and international institutions are crucial and fundamental to eradicate human trafficking and to make everyone’s actions more expeditious and effective, whether in places of origin, transit or destination” (Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking, Article 39, p.28)
Caritas Asia, together with Caritas Internationalis and Apostleship of the Sea Vatican, organized a special meeting between church organizations working on human trafficking issue. The meeting was initially designed only for Caritas organizations inviting guests from different church organizations. However, considering the fact that human trafficking is trans-boundaries issue, the meeting was shifted to become a space where church organizations can have conversation among each other.
Approximately 43 people of Caritas Internationalis, Caritas members in Asia, Caritas Nigeria, Caritas Albania, Caritas France, Apostleship of the Sea, COATNET, Talitha Khum, Stella Maris, USCCB and ACRATH participated in the meeting.
It witnessed rich exchanges of information among participants of the recent contexts and facts about labor migration and human trafficking issues, as sending, transit or destination countries. This sharing strengthens the need to be connected to one another as ONE CHURCH.
The participants are reminded by both Caritas Asia and Caritas Internationalis leaderships the importance in addressing the root causes and initiating a dialogue with development program to tackle this issue. In addition, it is also important to understand the growing trends of forced labor and human trafficking in order to combat it.
The key reflections of the meeting are the importance of focusing at the preventive aspect of human trafficking, showcasing the experience of church organizations and finding proper mechanism between church organizations to synergize and cooperate on the issue.
Cardinal Chito Tagle, President of Caritas Internationalis, reminded the participants to be careful when using the word ‘network’ because human trafficking is also a product of network.
Further, Cardinal Tagle called for called for a formation of ‘network of light’ to block the traffickers.
Caritas and other church organizations participated in an international conference on combating human trafficking with 250 government officials and experts of 40 countries held on 25 – 26 July 2019 in Taipei, Taiwan.
Caritas Asia Extraordinary meeting on May 26th, 2019 witnessed a warm handover of leadership key to the new Caritas Asia President, Dr. Benedict D’Rozario, and the incoming Regional Commission Members of Philippines, Mongolia, Korea and Nepal, from the outgoing Caritas Asia president, Archbishop Isao Kikuchi, and regional commission members of Pakistan, Myanmar, and Macau
Caritas Mongolia served as the regional commission member to represent Central Asia in the previous term and is reappointed by the sub region for 2019 – 2022 term.
The extraordinary meeting of Asian Caritas Directors was held to ratify the election of new Caritas Asia President and Regional Commission members on 21 – 22 March 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand.
The conference expressed its hope to the new leadership to continue great work of the predecessors and to further strengthen the collaboration of Caritas with other Catholic and church-based organizations in responding to the growing religious-based violence across Asia. Upon a heartfelt presentation of Caritas Sri Lanka, the Conference is committed that Caritas should actively engaged with different stakeholders to build a bridge towards peace.
Also in the meeting, the conference welcomed Caritas Kyrgyzstan and CHARIS-Singapore to become the official full members of the confederation, as well as the new Directors and management roles of Caritas Nepal, KARINA – Caritas Indonesia and Caritas Japan respectively.
Caritas members in Asia joined more than 400 participants, coming from around the globe, at the 21st Caritas Internationalis General Assembly held from 23 to 28 May 2019.
The work of charity promoted by Caritas becomes a space for dialogue of life, promoting solidarity and common humanity, leading to the promotion of authentic human development
The annual Regional Conference of Caritas Asia took place on 20–21 March 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand. The conference attracted a total of 61 participants coming from 23 Caritas Member Organizations in Asia as well as from emerging member organizations and Caritas Internationalis. Themed “Committed Together for A Better Future”, the conference served as an occasion for the Caritas family to revisit the unique collaboration of working together in the confederation.
The Caritas Asia Regional Conference is normally held every June of every year in Bangkok, alongside the Regional Partners’ Forum, garnering a broader participation from the MOs, the Caritas Global Partners, and other networks in Asia. This year, however, the Regional Conference was held earlier, in order to prepare the region for the 21st Caritas Internationalis General Assembly, which will be held on 23-28 May 2019 in Rome. In particular, the Regional Conference this year paved the way for the Caritas Confederation in Asia to elect its new Regional President and appoint the new members of the Regional Commission, as well as the region’s representative to the CI Representative Council, for the period covering 2019 - 2022.
At the opening ceremony, Archbishop Isao Kikuchi, President of Caritas Asia, welcomed the participants and expressed his gratitude for their attendance. He acknowledged the presence of the representatives of the Catholic Bishop Conference of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei Darussalam, as well as participants from the Catholic Social Services of main land China. He led the participants in a prayerful moment of silence to honour the memory of the late Bishop Wenceslao Padilla (Caritas Mongolia) and Bishop Michael Yeung (Caritas Hong Kong), both of whom passed away in late 2018.
The Caritas Inetrnationalis President, H. E. Antonio Cardinal Tagle, who delivered his message through a video recording, highlighted the value of collaboration. He said, “As we gather as Caritas Asia, I hope we could recover first the spirit of communion, solidarity and partnership with one another. We share common concerns, common cultures and common dreams, and that necessitates our coming together and working together. Secondly, we are also asked to work together with the wider Caritas family, the confederation”.
He also extended his hopes and prayers that the conference in Asia would serve as a good platform for preparation for the upcoming General Assembly in Rome.
Also in a video message, Michel Roy, the Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, likewise highlighted how the theme of the conference reflected the critical global orientation of working together in a confederation, against the common temptation of working alone. In his key note message which was read by Aloysius John, Michel emphasized the need for a commitment of fraternal cooperation as one Caritas family at all levels.
The first day of the conference focused on the deliberations and discussions on the various agenda points, including Caritas Asia’s report of the 2018 Operational Plan and planning for 2019, financial matters in Caritas Asia, and issues related to CA structural fees and CI statutory fees. This was followed by presentations from MOs in Asia.
Dr. Kim Mak, Higher Institute President of St. Francis University of Caritas Hongkong, made a short presentation about the university and invited the MOs to consider sending students to the university.
On the second day of the Regional Conference, Fr. Sanny Sanedrin, secretary of the CI Legal Affairs Commission, served as moderator for the statutory matters and the elections of the new Caritas Asia President, Regional Commission Members, and Caritas Asia representatives to the Representative Council of CI.
Dr. Benedict Alo D’Rozario was elected as the new Regional President of Caritas Asia. Dr Rozario was the former ED of Caritas Bangladesh, and currently serves as the Asian representative to the CI Finance Advisory Committee and Review Committee, and chair of the IDCS Committee - where he sits as chair.
The new Regional Commission Members were also voted in. They are Caritas Mongolia (Central Asia), Caritas Korea (East Asia), Caritas Nepal (South Asia), and Caritas Philippines (Southeast Asia). The mandate of Caritas Asia’s new leadership will start after the General Assembly.
Caritas Korea and Caritas Philippines will join Dr Rozario as representatives of the Asia region to the CI Representative Council. This Council will be constituted at the General Assembly.