Archbishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi Elected as new President of Caritas Internationalis
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Archbishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi has been elected as the new president of Caritas Internationalis, the second-largest humanitarian aid organization globally, following the Red Cross. As the Catholic archbishop of Tokyo and Japan's first missionary priest in Africa, Kikuchi brings a wealth of experience and dedication to his new role.
Archbishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi with Pope Francis.
Kikuchi's journey with Caritas began when he volunteered at a refugee camp, initiating his 30 years of service with the Catholic charitable organization. His commitment and passion for serving the poor and vulnerable were evident in his speech to the assembly during the 22nd General Assembly of Caritas Internationalis in Rome. He emphasized the importance of Caritas being at the forefront, welcoming, accompanying, serving, and defending those in need. Kikuchi expressed his desire to lead the entire organization alongside the secretary general to fulfill this crucial mission of the Church, urging everyone to walk together.
As the president of Caritas Internationalis, Kikuchi will oversee a confederation of more than 160 Catholic charities operating in 200 countries and territories. He succeeds Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, who served as Caritas' president since 2019.
Kikuchi's connection with Africa and his firsthand experience of witnessing extreme poverty and the impact of HIV-AIDS shaped his identity and deepened his resolve to help those in need. His time in rural Ghana and as a Caritas volunteer in a refugee camp in Zaire during the Rwandan genocide exposed him to the dire conditions people faced and their cry for assistance. These experiences solidified Kikuchi's belief in Caritas' mission to ensure people do not feel forgotten and to offer support and solidarity to those affected by disasters and conflicts.
Prior to becoming president, Kikuchi held various leadership positions within Caritas, including executive director of Caritas Japan and president of Caritas Japan and Caritas Asia. His extensive involvement within the organization reflects his commitment to its cause and his ability to contribute effectively to its development.
Kikuchi's presidency comes at a critical time for Caritas Internationalis. Following Pope Francis' decree in November to reform the organization, the top leaders were dismissed, and a provisional administration took charge. The aim is to improve management rules and procedures to better serve member charities worldwide. Kikuchi acknowledges that Caritas is not just an NGO but an organization that bears witness to God's love. The provision of food and assistance is accompanied by a profound desire to demonstrate how God's love embraces all people.
With Archbishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi at the helm, Caritas Internationalis is poised to continue its vital work of providing aid, fostering solidarity, and reminding the world that no one should feel forgotten in the face of adversity.
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