Protecting children is everyone’s business
This week is National Child Protection Week. National Child Protection Week invites all Australians to play their part to promote the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.
For the past year the Australian Province with the help of our Professional Standards Office has been seeking to improve the ways it can promote the safety and wellbeing of children and vulnerable adults across all our ministries. We initiated a review of our Province policy with the visit of Dr Kathleen McChesney a year ago.
Dr McChesney has had extensive experience with the FBI and in advising US Catholic Church protocols for child protection. She looked at our policies and offered some suggestions as to how to develop and improve them.
An initial draft of our ‘Province Policy for Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults’ was sent to Heads of Ministry and Chairs of Boards/Councils in April, seeking comments and suggestions. As a result, we are now in a position to offer this revised version. While this version is now formal Province policy, we recognise that it will need continual monitoring and occasional updating.
Can I urge all those involved in our ministries — Jesuits, lay and volunteers — to take time to take to heart this policy during the coming week.
As a Province we are committed that all our ministries promote the safety and wellbeing of children and vulnerable adults. But, as we know, the Gospel invites much more. It calls us to provide healing, support and justice for all who have been hurt by us or others, particularly those who are young and vulnerable as well as those who live on the edges of Church and society.
Pope Francis has invited us to take up this coming year as one of Mercy. He reminds us that ‘the time has come for the Church to take up the joyful call of mercy once more. It is time to return to the basics and to bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters.’
As a preparation for the coming year let us all take to heart our Province policy as we seek to respond to the call of mercy for the young and vulnerable.
Fr Brian McCoy SJ, Provincial