Policy Statement on Catholic Identity

Catholic Charities and its member agencies play an important role in the social mission of the Catholic Church. Ultimately, this mission aims at reflecting an image of God’s presence in the world through actions rooted in love, justice and service modeled on the life and teachings of Christ. Catholic Charities and its member agencies will explicitly pursue a purpose, goal and activities which embody and reflect the social mission of the Church by their active response to the poor and most vulnerable in accord with the pastoral and ethical values of the Church.


1.  Authorization: The authority to designate agencies as members of Catholic Charities resides with the Board of Directors of Catholic Charities as the delegate of the Archbishop of Toronto. Member agencies have the responsibility to promote active participation of the laity in programs of service and advocacy in their own parishes or by volunteering to a Board or program of an agency.

2.  Orientation: Volunteers and staff of Catholic Charities as well as of member agencies shall be aware of the role of the agency as an instrument of the social mission of the Church. Statements of mission, values and goals will articulate an underlying Catholic visioni which supports and inspires the provision of professional service.

3.  Service to all: In accord with Catholic values of respect for the dignity and equality of persons, solidarity and inclusivity, services of Catholic Charities and its member agencies will be made available to all persons without exclusion. The services offered by Catholic Charities and its member agencies will be consistent with the pastoral and ethical values of the Catholic Church.

4.  Catholic Identity and Inclusivity: Volunteers and staff will carry out their duties in a way that affirms the Catholic character of Catholic Charities. They will respect and adhere to the ethical principles and the social teaching of the Church. Catholic Charities and its member agencies will encourage volunteers and  staff  to  be respectful of  the plurality of  faith  traditions  and  cultures  of others, with whom they work and serve in order to engage people in service for  the  common  good.      Catholic  Charities  and  its  member  agencies are committed to open and cooperative relationships and accountability with respect to their activities.

5.  Volunteer and Staff Formation: To maintain and foster the Catholic identity of Catholic Charities and its member agencies, volunteers and staff require ongoing orientation and growth to understand their role in relation to the mission and vision of Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities and member agencies will provide opportunities that foster professional service through learning and reflection on Christian call, Catholic vision, values and principles and the relationship of the service provided to the social mission of the Church.

Catholic Formation will contribute to ongoing development of volunteers and staff with respect to Catholic vision, theology, spirituality, ethics, virtues and relevant Church law and the ability to apply these to daily concrete realities.

6.  Ethical Practice: Social and community services often involve difficult ethical issues. Catholic Charities and its member agencies will commit to a process for ethical discernment and review, in the context of their mission and informed by Catholic ethical values.

7. Communication: Member agencies will show evidence of membership in their publications, letterhead and in appropriate religious symbolism at agency offices.

Detailed examples of the application of these guidelines are included in the membership criteria attached.


Criterion I   

The agency must be incorporated, registered as a charitable organization under the Federal Income Tax Act, and demonstrate compliance with other relevant legislation.

Criterion II

The agency must be directly involved in the provision of a social, health, community or related service to meet an identified need in a specific geographic area of the Archdiocese.

Criterion III

The agency operates within a philosophy which reflects Catholic vision, values and principles.

Criterion IV

Agency service is consistent with the pastoral, moral, and social teaching of the Catholic Church.

Criterion V

The affairs of the agency are directed by an active Board of Directors who serve in a voluntary capacity and are responsible for policy, planning, priority-setting, service evaluation, adoption and regular monitoring of the agency’s operating budget.

Criterion VI

The agency demonstrates sound management practice, including maximizing the efficient and effective use of its resources.

Criterion VII

The agency demonstrates effectiveness of its services in responding to and meeting the needs of its client population.

Criterion VIII   

The agency is involved in, and demonstrates strong support from the community it serves.

Criterion IX

The agency seeks financial support from the community it serves.

Criterion X

The agency adheres to policies and operating standards of Catholic Charities.


i The Catholic vision encompasses respect for all God’s creation through which the invisible God is encountered in the visible world. The Catholic worldview consistently celebrates the world redeemed by Christ. It reverences the dignity and uniqueness of individual persons made in God’s image whose meaning and purpose in life is response to God’s call of love. That call is to make present, as a community of disciples, the reality of Jesus in the world through sacramental life and through actions. It is expressed through stewardship for creation, labour for justice and service to one another, society and Church. The Catholic vision is built upon the compatibility of faith and reason as integral to truth. It respects all life and virtues embodied by solidarity with all persons in a humble spirit of hospitality and with special care and concern for those who are poor and most vulnerable in society