Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) President Rt. Rev. George Lungu says the issue of creating a safe environment for children and vulnerable adults is a concern for all without exception.
Addressing Child Protection officers during a virtual meeting recently, the ZCCB President also added that the Conference’s commitment and policy statement on child protection will not mean much if nothing is being done at the grass-root level where such misdeeds often happen.
“Much depends on you the focal point persons in our various dioceses. We depend upon you to tap on your expertise and apply your pastoral innovation in order to make things happen,” he said.
“As ZCCB, we have trust in you and we know things will happen in favour of our children. The Year of Priests [ 2009 – 2010] marked the beginning of an open fight against child abuse in the Catholic Church, an issue that had been veiled in a culture of secrecy and silence for many decades, if not centuries in some cases,” he added.
Bishop Lungu who is the Prelate for Chipata Diocese announced that all the Catholic Bishops in Zambia have declared war on the deadly vice of destroying children through sexual, physical and emotional abuse as well as sheer neglect in the provision of basic necessities of life, leading to their exploitation.
“We need to lead the parade in this fight against child abuse for the sake of the future of our nation, our Church and our communities. Once again, our statements as ZCCB will not mean much if they do not find their footing in you our foot soldiers,’’ Bishop Lungu said.
Bishop Lungu noted that in the recent months, he personally has been disturbed at the culture of silence and non-reactive response to some very disturbing happenings.
He said that if there is an enemy in the fight against child abuse, it is the promotion of a culture of silence and deadening a sensibility to social ills happening on a daily basis and wondered how suddenly local churches could become militant against child abuse if they are silent and non-reactive to similar social ills in their communities.
This was also in an apparent reference to politicians dishing out of large sums of money to individuals and institutions, including the church members especially the poor villagers in remote areas.
He also hoped that the meeting of diocesan Child protection officers will enable individual participants to retreat into their own constituency so as to strategically prepare to further promote the activities related to the provision of a safe environment for children across the divide of the remotest and the most urbanized areas of Zambia.