Catholic Relief Services is an American Catholic agency that works to alleviate poverty and social problems around the globe. The organization operates within the context of Catholic social teaching, seeking especially to follow the example of Jesus Christ in helping the poor and working for peace and justice.
The U.S. Catholic hierarchy started Catholic Relief Services in 1943 to confront pressing social needs following World War II. Catholic Relief Services still operates under the auspices of the bishops of the United States, as well as by other clergy and men and women religious, but its operations have taken on a global dimension. As of 2015, the organization deals with 85 million people in 101 countries. The organization aims at aiding people in need regardless of religion, race or ethnicity, and employs nonCatholics as well as Catholics for this task.
Despite its universal outreach, the organization follows Catholic principles in its work, including respecting human life from conception until natural death. Catholic Relief Services also cooperates with political leaders, other religious groups and nonreligious groups to help further common social causes. Even within this context, the organization seeks to maintain its identity and abide by the teachings of its faith tradition.