By Robin Gomes
Bishop Markos Gebremedhin, the Apostolic Vicar of Jimma-Bonga is representing the inter-ritual bishops’ conference of Ethiopia at the February 21-24 meeting in the Vatican on the “Protection of Minors in the Church”.
He spoke to Seán Patrick Lovett about the issue of the abuse of minors in the cultural context of Ethiopia.
Bishop Gebremedhin said that Ethiopia as a nation is committed to protecting children and has signed the United Nations Convention on the Protection of Minors. However, the cultural priorities with regard to protecting children in his country are several, such as sexual abuse, child trafficking, early marriage and others.
The Church in Ethiopia does not deny there is no sexual abuse of minors within society, such as by immediate family members or neighbours on neglected children or children with disabilities such as those with Down syndrome or autism. Nobody speaks about it but children could be exposed to sexual abuse.
Within the Ethiopian Church so far, they have not yet had any report of sexual abuse of children by the clergy. But the fact that the phenomenon exists elsewhere should be an alarm for the Ethiopian Church to prevent and prepare well for any kind of eventuality. The most important thing, Bishop Gebremedhin said, is to prevent the abuse of children in the Church.