East African Bishops Pledge to Create a ‘Safe, Nurturing Church Environment’ for Minors.

Members of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) have pledged to create a safe environment for minors and vulnerable adults within their jurisdictions. In a statement released after their July 1–4 meeting focused on safeguarding these groups, AMECEA members expressed their sorrow over the harm caused by abuse and reaffirmed their dedication to preventing it in all its forms.

“We aim to foster a secure and nurturing church environment where faith can thrive, dreams can grow, and potentials can be realized,” read the statement delivered by AMECEA chairman, Bishop Charles Kasonde, on July 1 at Roussel House of Donum Dei Missionary Sisters in Karen, Nairobi. The statement also called on community members to join in this essential mission to ensure a future where children and vulnerable adults are protected and cherished.

The AMECEA encompasses member countries such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, South Sudan, and Zambia, along with affiliate members Somalia and Djibouti. The church leaders stressed their commitment to making the Church a sanctuary where every child and vulnerable adult feels safe, heard, and secure.

AMECEA members also promised to regularly update their safeguarding policies to align with best practices and the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors Universal Guidelines Framework. They emphasized their collaboration with child welfare and abuse prevention experts to ensure their policies are comprehensive and effective. Transparency and accountability in all matters related to child safeguarding are priorities, in line with legal frameworks.

Acknowledging the need for continuous education and skills development to maintain a protective environment, AMECEA members committed to enhancing the capacity of pastoral agents, staff, and affiliates at all levels. This includes national conferences and dioceses. The aim is to better uphold the principles of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults.

Recognizing the critical role of Small Christian Communities (SCCs), they plan to strengthen the capacity of families and children within these communities, promoting values and morals to ensure everyone’s safety.

Addressing the impact of abuse on survivors, AMECEA members acknowledged the severe, long-lasting effects and committed to supporting the Memorare Initiative, which provides counseling, spiritual guidance, and rescue services. They emphasized listening to survivors, validating their experiences, and ensuring they receive justice and healing. Their response includes therapy and support for the healing process.

AMECEA members also committed to familiarizing themselves with church and civil safeguarding documents and engaging with communities to promote awareness and education on child safeguarding through workshops, seminars, and informational campaigns aimed at fostering a culture of vigilance and care.

The bishops encouraged people in the AMECEA region to continuously reflect on how to better care for children in light of daily realities. They expressed gratitude to parents, guardians, caregivers, teachers, pastoral agents, and all involved in nurturing the holistic growth of children, describing it as a divine duty that must be embraced wholeheartedly.

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