Our safeguarding and integrity

No charity is more important than the people it is called to serve

Caritas’ commitment

Caritas is determined to protect the safety and dignity of every person.

Caritas is determined to do the same for every staff member, volunteer or supporter who carries out its work.

Caritas takes safeguarding and integrity extremely seriously and is committed to tackling all forms of abuse and exploitation, whoever the perpetrator, wherever mistreatment occurs. Every child and adult who comes to us has the right to be received in a safe environment.

Caritas has put policies, systems and actions in place to reinforce its commitments. It understands that where any weaknesses exist, they are addressed with strength and humanity. Caritas has a survivor-centred approach, prioritising the needs of victims and survivors.

Caritas stands for:

  • Supporting survivors with humility and action.
  • Honesty, transparency and accountability.
  • Openness to engage with factual accuracy.
  • Determination to reach the very highest standards in safeguarding.
  • Embracing scrutiny and improvement of systems to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse, emotional harm, bullying and harassment.
  • Commitment to tackling gender and other inequalities.
  • Determination to listen and to act where there are concerns and complaints and to support those who blow the whistle.
  • Following Catholic Social Teaching in its safeguarding, protection and integrity work.
  • Informed and rigorous recruitment of members of staff.

Abuse has no place – what Caritas has done to prevent it

The nature of charity, humanitarian and development activities can place staff where they have power and authority in their relationships with extremely vulnerable people.

Caritas believes vigilance is crucial, combined with robust and trusted systems to protect people affected by poverty, crisis or disaster. Safety and protection from harm is their right. This is the same for staff, supporters and volunteers who seek to support those in need.

Caritas has appointed an expert in Safeguarding and Integrity to mainstream its commitment throughout the organisation. It has strong policies in place and a far-reaching complaints process. Caritas focuses on the protections created by international agreements such as the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child and other protocols.

Complaints and complainants

Caritas has zero tolerance of abuse, harassment and exploitation. It supports anyone who wishes to report and complain about misconduct and bad behaviour.

Complaints will be thoroughly investigated and decisive action taken. Whistle blowers will be respected and protected. Caritas will fully cooperate with any civil or ecclesiastical investigations and procedures.

How to Make a Complaint

Here is Caritas’ comprehensive Complaints Policy.

Our Safeguarding and Integrity lead personally handles complaints and can be contacted directly and confidentially here.

Our Safeguarding and Integrity lead is a member of Caritas’ Complaints Handling Committee. It has the following members:

  • Caritas Internationalis Safeguarding and Integrity lead
  • A Caritas Internationalis Board member
  • The Caritas Internationalis Secretary General
  • The Ecclesiastical Assistant of Caritas Internationalis

“How can we profess faith in Christ when we close our eyes to all the wounds inflicted by abuse?….Each of us and our brothers and sisters at home must take personal responsibility for bringing healing to this wound in the Body of Christ and make the commitment to do everything in our power to see that children are safe in our communities.” – Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, President, Caritas Internationalis

Our plans for the future

Caritas’ safeguarding and integrity policies are not static – they are backed by determination and strong purpose. Our commitment is ongoing and continues to develop and grow in response to need and experience.

Areas we will work further on include:

  • Ensuring we have locally-trained people in place in each of our member organisations and our regional offices who are responsible for building safeguarding capacity
  • Making safeguarding-specific training compulsory for all Caritas staff, members of our governing boards and our associates
  • Further developing Caritas’ complaints handling systems so that they are as accessible an effective as possible
  • Creating child-friendly versions of all of our policies
  • Constantly remembering and refocusing our attention on making our safeguarding and integrity policies gold standard

Member Organisations of the Caritas Confederation

Caritas Internationalis is a confederation of autonomous member organisations working worldwide, with each and every one committed to safeguarding children and vulnerable adults and to operating safe workspaces.

Member compliance with confederation policies is mandatory and member organisations will be given support is necessary.

While safeguarding standards are already high in some members, Caritas Internationalis will make sure that this is the norm throughout the confederation.

Caritas recognizes that vigilance is always needed, and so is reviewing its policies of safeguarding and integrity to see if they can be further reinforced.

Guidance from the Catholic Church

Pope Francis issued new laws in 2019 to address crimes committed as a result of failures in safeguarding and integrity. The laws make reporting any such crimes mandatory, and they demand that people who say they have been harmed are treated with dignity and respect. They are to be offered spiritual, medical, therapeutic and psychological assistance.

“We need to recognize with humility and courage that we stand face to face with evil, which strikes most violently against the most vulnerable. For this reason, the Church has now become increasingly aware of the need to curb the cases of abuse by disciplinary measures and civil and canonical processes.”
Pope Francis

Caritas Venezuela volunteer Dr. Albina Rosas with some of her patients. Photo by Caritas Venezuela

Key documents