Caritas, independent welfare organisation of the Catholic church in the spirit of love and goodwill. In Austria there are nine independent diocesan Caritas organisations, each subordinate to the respective diocesan bishop. According to the federalist structure, every diocese is free to act independently on matters of finance and staff. The Austrian Caritas central office is an institute under church law and a legal entity. Its organs are the Caritas directorate, the president (from 1995 H. Küberl as successor to H. Schüller and Prelate L. Ungar), his deputy and a secretary-general. The Caritas provides emergency assistance in case of disaster and is engaged in development aid abroad, closely co-operating with local partner organisations and the Caritas Internationalis. At home it assists institutions for the disabled, mobile care services and homes and in and out-patient hospice services. It provides aid and advice for disadvantaged groups, such as the homeless, aliens, people in debt and drug addicts, and also provides training institutions, such as the school of social services and courses in caring for and working with disabled people. In the year 2000, Caritas had around 5,000 employees; about 40,000 honorary helpers are active in the parish committees for social work and charity.