A Child Protection activist in Malawi, Sister Agnes Jonas of the Teresian Sisters, has challenged Children Animators in the Church to safeguard and protect children from all forms of abuses including physical and emotional ill-treatment; sexual abuse; neglect or negligent treatment of children. She said the Church could also advocate against commercial interests that harm children.
Sr. Jonas spoke about the importance of protecting children during a presentation on Child Protection to 96 Animators under the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM).
“This includes 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,” said Sr. Jonas.
According to Sr. Jonas, the Church is crucial in ensuring that it assists victims of abuse. This support to victims encompasses cooperating with civil authorities and offering Counselling to victims.
“It is also our responsibility as a Church to offer proper formation to future priests and religious men and women so that they are well conversant with child protection issues. Educating the community on the 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 other things was aimed at empowering Holy Childhood Animators in each Diocese of Malawi with effective Catechetical missionary instruction methods.
“We also organised this workshop to improve the understanding of Holy Childhood Animators on the importance of early child Catholic missionary development in children," said Fr. Mwakhwawa.
He said Children Animators are critical in the Church because they give sound Christian foundation to children by teaching them Catholic values.
The three-days’ workshop drew participants from all the eight dioceses in Malawi.
(Prince Henderson in Lilongwe, Malawi)