A Child Protector, Sister Agnes Jonas from the Teresian Sisters has challenged Children Animators in the Catholic Church to safeguard and protect children from all forms of abuses including physical and emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial. This also includes other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust and power.
She was speaking during a presentation on Child Protection to 96 Animators under Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM).
According to Sister Jonas, the Church is emphatic in ensuring that it among others assist the victims of abuse, cooperating with civil authorities, offering support to all perpetrators and victims by proper counselling
“It is also our responsibility as a Church to offer proper formation for future priests and religious men and women so that they are well conversant with Child protection issues. Educating community on protection of minors is also one other aspect we ought to consider as a Church,” she said.
National PMS Director, Fr. Vincent Mwakhwawa said the workshop among others was aimed at empowering Holy Childhood animators per Diocese with effective catechetical missionary instruction methods.
“We also organized this workshop to improve the understanding of Holy Childhood animators on the importance of early child Catholic missionary development in children and to increase the understanding of Holy Childhood animators on the importance of allocating children to classes according to their age and level of understanding of the catholic teachings, “said Fr. Mwakhwawa.
He said Animators are very important in the Church because they give a sound Christian foundation to children by teaching them the Catholic Values.
“The Children after reaching the age of five, parents are expected to send them to church to be given the catholic formation. Parents give the initial formation from 0 to 5 years and then Animators come into help children grow and walk the Catholic Values, “he said.
He said the workshop was therefore; apart from discussing topical issues, also aimed at building and creating some common catholic approaches in evangelization to Children. “These approaches are child and missionary centered. The Catholic Church in Malawi, in line with Pope Francis recommendation in Evangelii Gaudium (nos.24-28), would like to form a community of evangelizers, so that every catholic member should become a missionary disciple,” said Fr. Mwakhwawa.
Children, through PMS, are therefore, in this journey of on-going formation of a community of missionary disciples.
The three day workshop drew together participants from all the eight dioceses in Malawi.
BY PRINCE HENDERSON