Established by Pope Paul VI in 1971, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, in the words of Benedict XVI, is in charge of directing and coordinating the organizations and charitable initiatives of the Catholic Church.
The Dicastery carries out diverse activities covering three main areas:
a) To assist the Pope and be his instrument for carrying out special initiatives in the field of humanitarian actions when disasters occur, or in the field of integral human promotion.
b) To encourage and coordinate the initiatives of Catholic Aid Organizations through the exchange of information and by promoting cooperation also fostering and supporting volunteer service. Cor Unum has a special responsibility for "supervising and guiding the activity of Caritas Internationalis" (cf. Letter of John Paul II During the Last Supper, 4), a Confederation of over 160 charitable agencies, the largest confessional humanitarian organisation reflecting the social mission and core values of the Catholic Church.
c) To foster the catechesis and theology of charity. in this context Cor Unum is in charge of the preparation and diffusion of the yearly Lenten Message of the Holy Father and the promotion and encouragement of theological reflection among Pastors in order to strengthen the Christian roots of Charity.