Kenyan Bishop Calls for Child Safeguarding amid Initiatives by Diocese against Abuse

Bishop Willybard Lagho addresses the faithful during Holy Mass at St. Joseph the Worker Outstation of St. Anthony’s Cathedral Parish in Malindi/ Credit: Diocese of Malindi/Facebook

The Catholic Bishop of Kenya’s Malindi Diocese has called for child safeguarding amid initiatives undertaken by the Kenyan Diocese to ensure the safety of children.

In his Sunday, June 20 homily at St Joseph the worker Outstation of St. Anthony Parish, Bishop Willybard Lagho presented St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, as an example of successful child safeguarding through good parenting.

“When he discovered Mary was pregnant after they had been betrothed, he knew the child was not his but was as yet unaware that she was carrying the Son of God. He resolved to send her away quietly to not expose her to shame or cruelty, because he was a virtuous man,” explained Bishop Lagho.

He went on to highlight instances when St. Joseph was a protective spouse and foster father particularly when he responded to the angel’s message from God and took his family away to Egypt for safety.   

The Catholic church leader challenged all parents to take parenting as a God-given responsibility and dedicate their time, energy and resources to it.


“Our greatest role as parents, adults and members of the community is safeguarding minors; ensuring the well-being and protection of children,” said Bishop Lagho, adding, “In the footsteps of St. Joseph, let us all protect all children at all times.”

Owing to the high rates of sexual abuse and teenage pregnancies along the country’s coastal strip, the Catholic Diocese of Malindi has taken major steps towards ensuring children are safeguarded and such cases are cut down.

“The Diocese has put up measures such as rescuing children who are living with abusive parents and guardians and taking them through counselling services. We also talk to members of their families and ensure they are integrated back to their communities,” said Bishop Lagho.

The Kenyan Diocese also runs ‘Pope Francis Rescue Home’, a children rescue center the Diocese put up in partnership with Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (MSOLA) to help rehabilitate child victims of sexual abuse and other forms of exploitation in the region.

According to Bishop Lagho, the rescue home has handled more than 500 cases since its inception in 2015 with tens of perpetrators in those cases being convicted to jail terms.

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In addition to providing psychosocial support to child victims of sexual abuse and their caregivers, and helping in prosecution of child abuse cases, PFRH partners with other child protection stakeholders in Kilifi, Tana River and Lamu Counties through community sensitization forums on rights of children and safeguarding of minors,” he said.

The Catholic Diocese is one of two Dioceses in Kenya where members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) have piloted a children safeguarding program dubbed “Watoto Watunzwe,” a Swahili phrase which loosely translates to “let the children be safeguarded.”

The program, which is also running in neighboring Kilifi County, involves schools and other social gatherings to sensitize the public against child molestation.