, 12 October, 2019 / 1:53 AM
Some five months after Pope Francis issued his Apostolic Letter “Vos Estis Lux Mundi” (You are the light of the world) in which the Holy Father introduced norms regarding sexual abuse, Catholic Bishops in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) have launched a series of trainings targeting pastoral agents in view of ensuring the protection of minors and vulnerable persons in the various structures of the local Church.
"We would like to focus on the protection of children, the protection of minors and vulnerable persons because, after all, they are our future,” Fr. George Kalenga told participants at the launch of the first training session in the diocese of Kongolo, Southeast of DR Congo.
“Vulnerable people are also human beings like us, whose lives we must protect and for whom we must create a safe environment that can support their growth,” Fr. Kalenga who is the deputy Secretary General of the National Bishops' Conference of Congo (CENCO) explained during the start of the three-day training Friday, October 4.
According to a message published on CENCO website, the training session will be extended to all Catholic structures of the 47 dioceses of the Catholic Church in the DR Congo.
The Catholic structures such as Caritas, the diocesan commission for Justice and Peace, the Coordination of Catholic schools and health centres are expected to be part of this training.
Fr. Kalenga reminded the pastoral agents in the diocese of Kongolo about the importance of getting involved in the protection of minors and vulnerable persons saying, “There should be widespread sensitization, but also that everyone should commit themselves to protecting minors and doing so in the place where they work, the place where they live.”
“It should be a safe place for children, a place where they can grow in good and due form, not only for children but also for vulnerable people who are assimilated to children because they do not have sufficient use of their faculties," the Congolese priest underscored.
“It is our wish to see all those who were able to participate in this training capitalize on it, so that they can then use this knowledge to create awareness on the abuses faced by minors and vulnerable persons,” he said.
Fr. Kalenga also noted that the subject of protecting minors and vulnerable persons must be approached with the awareness that sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable persons does exist in Africa.
"This should not be a taboo subject," he emphasized and added “abuses, especially sexual abuse, is a phenomenon that exists (everywhere), even here in our country it exists.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa