Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic World News

Caritas elects new secretary-general, vice president

May 17, 2023

Alistair Dutton (Twitter), executive director of SCIAF (Caritas Scotland), was elected the new secretary-general of Caritas Internationalis, the Church’s confederation of humanitarian and development agencies, at its general assembly.

“Serving Caritas over the last three decades has been a great privilege for me,” said Dutton, who worked as the confederation’s humanitarian director from 2009 to 2014. “I promise to listen humbly, to reflect thoughtfully, and to build bridges.”

According to Caritas’s statutes, the secretary-general of Caritas manages the work of the confederation and may serve for up to two four-year terms. Dutton will report to Archbishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi, SVD, of Tokyo, the new confederation’s new president.

Dutton succeeds Aloysius John, a key member of the Caritas leadership team ousted by Pope Francis last November. John, a native of India and French citizen, was elected Caritas secretary-general in 2019.

John said he was a victim of a “brutal power grab” that reflected “colonialist” attitudes. Staff members spoke of an atmosphere of bullying and harassment under John’s leadership.

“I can’t begin to imagine how it must feel to be removed by a papal decree, and I’m sure Aloysius is still very, very hurt,” Dutton said of the Pope’s dismissal of John.

Delegates at the general assembly elected Kirsty Robertson (LinkedIn, Twitter), CEO of Caritas Australia, as the confederation’s vice president. According to the statutes, the vice president represents and promotes the confederation and assumes the office of president in the event of the president’s “grave impediment or death.”

Dutton succeeds Sean Callahan, the president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, as vice president of Caritas Internationalis. Callahan, elected vice president in 2015 and reelected in 2019, was dismissed from his role by Pope Francis along with other Caritas leaders last November.

Caritas posted brief video messages by Dutton and Robertson following their elections, as the new leaders pledged to treat employees with respect.

“In every country in the world, women have yet to achieve economic equality with men,” Robertson said. “The face of poverty is the face of a woman.”


For all current news, visit our News home page.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.