Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) president Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu has called for the protection of children and minors.
Speaking on behalf of other Catholic Bishops of Zambia during the opening of a one-day workshop on Child Protection held at Lusaka’s Kapingila House Monday, Lusaka Archdiocese's Archbishop Mpundu described the statistics on reported cases of abused children as a tragedy.
Archbishop Mpundu further called for the reversal of the situation and announced that that the Church stands in a singular position to spearhead the campaign.
“[I am informed that] every single month at the University Teaching Hospital 120 children below the age of 8 admitted to the hospital as a result of abuse. And these are numbers of children whom we know about. These are cases reported to the police and followed up. But a greater number is not even known. This is a tragedy which must be reversed, and the Church stands ready in a singular position to spearhead this campaign,” he said.
The ZCCB president further said that the cry of the Church is to mobilise everyone in the Church to fight the abuse of children.
“Let us put together whatever we have in terms of resources so that we can move ahead. Our cry is to mobilise everyone in the Church beginning with the family. Children are most abused by people who know them,” he said.
“We have to mobilise Small Christian Communities, Lay Apostolic Movements, the Clergy, the Religious, just everyone to fight child abuse,” he added.
The ZCCB president also spoke against a conspiracy silence on child abuse.
“There is a conspiracy of silence in our society. Anything that elders do cannot go wrong. And if it goes wrong people try all ways to dismiss it. But in other parts of the world people are a lot more open about these things, but here in Zambia and Africa, in general, we are silent,” he noted.
Archbishop Mpundu also said that the situation of child abuse must be reversed, for the future of children in Zambia depends on them.
“The future of this country is not our children of tomorrow, [but] our children of today. Because what happens to children today remains with them for the rest of their lives. And this is contagious and goes from one generation to another. So protect the children,” Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu said.
Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors Monsignor Robert Oliver commended the Catholic Church in Zambia on its stance regarding the protection of children and minors.
The one-day Child Protection workshop has drawn 46 participants from all the 11 dioceses of Zambia. It was organised by Pope Francis’ 2014 Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
The Pontifical Commission goes around the world to promote local responsibility by assisting Bishops, religious superiors and episcopal conferences to develop guidelines, norms, and establish safe environments for children through mutual sharing of best practices.
(Mwenya Mukuka, Communications Officer, Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops in Lusaka)