Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga, the archbishop of Tegucigalpa, was elected by the confederation members at the 18th General Assembly being held in Vatican City.
Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga will become the global representative of the 162 members of the Caritas Confederation when he officially takes office at the end of the assembly on Saturday.
Unable to attend the Caritas general assembly because of his attendance at the 5th General Conference of Latin American bishops in Brazil, Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga addressed the assembly by telephone from Tegucigalpa.
"I would like to convey to the General Assembly thanks from the bottom of my heart. I appreciate the trust and the confidence they have shown in me," he said.
The 64-year-old cardinal added: "We in Caritas must work hard for the needs of the poor. If we are to be true disciples and missionaries, we need to enhance the social-pastoral engagement of all of our members.
"Especially in this period, we must share the goods and stand up to overcome social injustice. On the 40th anniversary of 'Populorum Progressio,' we must promote development as the way to alleviate and to overcome poverty."
Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga was born in 1942 in Honduras and ordained by the Salesians in June 1970.
He holds a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome, and a diploma in clinical psychology and psychotherapy from Leopold Franz University, in Innsbruck, Austria.
On Oct. 28, 1978, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Tegucigalpa and then promoted to archbishop of Tegucigalpa on Jan. 8, 1993.
He was elevated to cardinal in February 2001.