Samuel Waweru and Rose Achiego – Nairobi, Kenya
The Vice Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) – Commission for Social Communications, Bishop Peter Kihara, I.M.C., has said child abuse is a reality that the Church must confront. He says the Church has to respond to all cases of child abuse and cannot afford to run away from its responsibility in ensuring that children are safeguarded.
One cannot protect the Church by hiding the truth
“We must accept the reality of child abuse,” said Bishop Kihara. “We cannot run away from child abuse cases. We must face this reality. If any of our Church personnel is involved, it means the Church has to respond accordingly. You cannot protect the Church by hiding,” he emphasised.
The Bishop has since called for the establishment of child protection desks in every diocese.
All dioceses should have child protection policies
Bishop Kihara reiterated the importance of having child protection policies in the dioceses, saying this has now become part and parcel of all project implementation procedures.
“Child protection policies are now part of donor funding requirements,” said Bishop Kihara. “Dioceses that do not have their own child protection policies should use the KCCB policy. I am glad that we now also have the AMECEA Child Safeguarding Standards and Guidelines,” he said, adding: “All the people that are involved with children need to be introduced to the child protection policy to know and understand their responsibilities towards children under their care,” said the Marsabit Bishop.
Do not confine seminars to cities only
The Bishop said there is the need to conduct training at the local diocesan level, especially for those who are handling children.
He nevertheless cautioned: “Child protection seminars should not be confined to the cities. We should go to the grassroots, in the dioceses – hold training there so that we can have an open discussion on the way forward,” advised the Bishop.
Bishop Kihara was recently addressing Kenyan diocesan communication coordinators, radio station managers, missionary communications personnel as well as Catholic media directors attending a training session held at Our Lady of Africa Pastoral Centre in Mombasa,. Kenya.