Bishops in East Africa commit to creating ‘safe, nurturing church environment’ for minors

AMECEA Members of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) during a July 4, 2024, press conference. | Credit: AMECEA

Members of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) have expressed their commitment to creating an environment that ensures the safeguarding of minors and vulnerable adults in their respective episcopal sees.

In a statement following their July 1–4 consultative meeting on safeguarding children and vulnerable adults, AMECEA members said they are “deeply saddened by the pain caused by abuse” and added that they are “committed to preventing it in all forms.”

“We strive to create a safe and nurturing church environment where faith can flourish, aspirations are nurtured, and potential is achieved,” the bishops said in the statement that AMECEA chairman, Bishop Charles Kasonde, read out to journalists on July 1 at Roussel House of Donum Dei Missionary Sisters in Karen, Nairobi.

The statement urged all community members to join in this “crucial mission to ensure a future where children and vulnerable adults are safe, cherished, and nurtured.”

AMECEA member countries include Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, South Sudan, and Zambia, as well as affiliate member nations Somalia and Djibouti. 

“Our goal is to ensure that every child and vulnerable adult finds in the Church a safe haven where they feel protected, heard, and secure,” the Catholic Church leaders emphasized.

AMECEA members also expressed their commitment to ensuring that safeguarding policies in the region are “regularly reviewed and updated to reflect best practices on safeguarding and aligned to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors Universal Guidelines Framework.”

“We work closely with experts in child welfare and abuse prevention to ensure our policies are effective and comprehensive,” they added. “The Church is committed to transparency and accountability in all matters related to child safeguarding in line with the legal framework.”

Aware of existing knowledge and skill gaps necessary for maintaining a protective environment, AMECEA members said: “The Church will strive to continually enhance the capacity of its pastoral agents, staff, and affiliates at all levels, including national conferences and dioceses.”

“The aim is to better uphold the principles of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults,” they said. Recognizing the important place of the Small Christian Community (SCC), they added that through SCCs, the Church will work “to strengthen the capacity of families and children and enhance values and morals to ensure everyone’s safety.”

Reflecting on survivors of abuse, AMECEA members said they recognize the “severe, long-lasting impact of abuse on victims and survivors,” adding: “The Church is committed to the Memorare Initiative, which offers care and support through counseling, spiritual guidance, and rescue services.”

In their July 4 statement, the bishops expressed their commitment to “listening to survivors, validating their experiences, and ensuring they receive justice and healing.”

“Our responses aim to provide therapy and aid in the healing process for survivors of abuse,” they further said, expressing their commitment to familiarizing themselves with “Church and civil documents on safeguarding and engage with our communities to promote awareness and education on child safeguarding.”

“This includes workshops, seminars, and informational campaigns designed to foster a culture of vigilance and care,” AMECEA members said in their collective statement.

They urged the people of God in the AMECEA region “to continually reflect on how we can better care for children given to parents in light of our daily realities.”

“We are truly thankful to parents, guardians, caregivers, teachers, pastoral agents, and all who are involved in nurturing the holistic growth of our children. This is a divine duty that we must all commit to wholeheartedly,” they said.

This article was first published by ACI Africa, CNA's news partner in Africa, and has been adapted by CNA.

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