Caritas Portugal is an official organisation of the Bishops’ Conference of Portugal.
Its first statutes were approved in 1956, and until 1970 its activities were mainly focused on food distribution and welcoming refugee children from Central Europe. From 1970 to 2000 revenue generating activities were developed, social services were continuously provided, capacity building of staff was carried out and local development initiatives were implemented. Advocacy activities became a permanent feature of the organisation’s work, while the diocesan Caritas moved from being delegations to become independent organisations. From 2000 onwards, the diocesan Caritas gained complete independence.
The national union consists of 20 diocesan offices and local groups that provide complete nationwide coverage. Activities vary from one diocese to another, and each diocese responds to different needs: vulnerable children and young people, drug addiction, the homeless, local development and psycho-social support projects – ranging from basic activities to international advocacy campaigns.
Caritas Portugal organises various pastoral care, social policy, training, and international support initiatives. These include:
- A Caritas Day on the Third Sunday of the Easter period when the work of Caritas is promoted and funds are raised, with each local Caritas carrying out its own activities in accordance with a common theme.
- The +Próximo project, which provides capacity building for people working in the social ministry of the Church.
- 10 million stars, a gesture for peace campaign, as part of Christmas festivities, is an activity to raise awareness of peace and justice issues.
Caritas Portugal is a member of the National Confederation of Solidarity Institutions (CNIS), the Portuguese Confederation of Volunteering, and the Portuguese ONGD Platform.
In 2012, the organisation received the National Human Rights Award of the Assembly of the Republic, which is given to organisations and people who are honoured for defending justice and promoting the common good.
Mr. Eugénio José da Cruz Fonseca