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Tokyo archbishop elected new president of Caritas

May 16, 2023

Archbishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi, SVD, of Tokyo was elected the new president of Caritas Internationalis, the Church’s confederation of humanitarian and development agencies, at its general assembly.

“We are a Catholic Church organization, and the institute of the service of the Church,” Archbishop Kikuchi said in an interview with Vatican News. “So, that means that Caritas is supposed to be a witness of the love of God. What we do is not only provide food or materials or any kind of assistance, but rather we want to be witnesses of the love of God to show people that this is how God loves all people.”

He added:

We cannot bring hope from outside. We can bring food, materials, and everything else from outside and give it to people in difficulty. But we cannot bring hope and give it to the people in difficulty. Rather, hope has to be created within their heart. We cannot order them to create hope. But, we can be a friend, and we can walk together. We can be with them, so that they can be assured that they are not forgotten. From that, they can create the hope to survive.

Crux reported that Archbishop Kikuchi “shares many of Pope Francis’s pastoral priorities, from attention to the poor, his missionary drive, and his insistence on the need to be more welcoming of those who don’t fit the Catholic ideal, especially LGBTQ individuals and those who are divorced and remarried.”

According to Caritas’s statutes, the president of Caritas leads the confederation for up to two four-year terms and is responsible for ensuring that the confederation observes canon law.

Archbishop Kikuchi succeeds Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the foremost of the members of the Caritas leadership team ousted by Pope Francis last November. Cardinal Tagle was elected Caritas president at the May 2015 general assembly and was reelected in 2019. Apart from his work for Caritas, Cardinal Tagle was appointed archbishop of Manila in 2011 and Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in 2019. He is now Pro-Prefect of the Section for the First Evangelization and New Particular Churches of the Dicastery for Evangelization.

Under Cardinal Tagle’s leadership, Father Luk Delft, a Belgian Salesian priest, was appointed national director for Caritas in the Central African Republic—despite a 2012 conviction in Belgium for child pornography and child sexual abuse. After CNN reported on the scandal in 2019, a Caritas official said that Cardinal Tagle was unaware of the conviction, though Cardinal Tagle became aware in 2017 of a therapist’s letter stating that Father Delft should not be around children because of “concerns” about pedophilia.

Father Delft, who was accused of sexually abusing boys in the Central African Republic, is currently on trial in Belgium.


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