Catholic bishops of East Africa have introduced a handbook to help Church leaders develop standards to safeguard the safety of children.
Child Safeguarding – Standards and Guidelines: A Catholic Guide for Policy Development was introduced in the Kenyan capital by the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa, known as AMECEA.
The release followed a three-day child safety seminar over May 28-30 attended by bishops, other clergy, religious men and women and laypeople working in various ministries.
George Thuku, AMECEA’s child protection officer, said the handbook is expected to be used by each national bishops’ conference throughout the region as they establish their own safeguarding policies.
“Each of the national episcopal conferences should ensure that it has officially launched its national policy on the issue, child safeguarding,” he said.
The handbook sets the minimum requirements for individual bishops’ conference to follow, according to Fr Emmanuel Chimombo, director of AMECEA’s Pastoral Department.
“The document is not everything, but has minimum standards and guidelines that the Church in the region can effectively use to tackle matters pertaining to the child safeguarding and protection,” he said.
Archbishop Ignatius Chama of Kasama, Zambia, said the handbook builds on discussions by the heads of the world’s bishops’ conferences during February’s Vatican summit on child protection.
“Whichever way you look at it, the two complement each other, not forgetting that some national conferences in the region had already formulated the policy before the bishops’ summit,” Bishop Chama said.
“But whichever way, the Holy Father Pope Francis must be thanked for his input on the issue.”