KENYA: AMECEA Bishops Reaffirm Commitment to Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults

By Wesley Omondi

NAIROBI, JULY 5, 2024 (CISA) – In a strong commitment to safeguarding the most vulnerable, the AMECEA Bishops, collaborating with the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM), concluded a consultative meeting at Roussel House in Nairobi, Kenya. During the gathering from July 1 to 4,  the bishops coordinating safeguarding, through the AMECEA safeguarding initiative, underscored their unwavering dedication to protecting children and vulnerable adults, emphasizing the theological and moral principles driving this critical responsibility.

The bishops noted the significant proportion of children and young people within the AMECEA region and underscored the Catholic Church’s responsibility to care for them: “We recognize that every child is a gift from God; ‘Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring, a reward from Him’ (Psalms 127:3).”

Reflecting on the instinct to care for children, the bishops expressed their gratitude to all those involved in nurturing the holistic growth of children, including parents, guardians, caregivers, teachers, and pastoral agents.

“This is a divine duty that we must all commit to wholeheartedly,” declared the AMECEA bishops.

The bishops acknowledged the substantial investments the Catholic Church has made in pastoral, educational, healthcare, and development initiatives, which have greatly contributed to the well-being of children in the region. However, they remained mindful of the significant challenges children face, including material deprivation, poverty, emergencies, and abuse.

Tragically, some children endure various forms of abuse, including physical, emotional, sexual, and spiritual abuse, neglect, and exploitation. The bishops highlighted the harsh reality of children being recruited into armed forces, criminal gangs, and radical groups, which denies them a dignified childhood.

“We echo Pope Francis’ sentiment that a society which neglects its elderly and its children has no future, as it disregards both its heritage and its potential,” they emphasized.

Reaffirming their commitment, the bishops vowed to protect children and vulnerable adults by preventing, detecting, and responding to all forms of abuse: “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 bishops committed to regularly reviewing and updating their safeguarding policies to reflect best practices that align with 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 stated.

Acknowledging existing knowledge and skill gaps, the bishops also pledged to enhance the capacity of pastoral agents, staff, and affiliates at all levels. They also aimed to strengthen the capacity of families and children through Small Christian Communities.