Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) president Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu has called on the protection of Children and minors.
Speaking on behalf of other Catholic Bishops of Zambia during the opening of a one-day workshop on Child protection held at Kapingila house on Monday 23rd January, 2017, Archbishop Mpundu described the statistics on reported cases of abused children as a tragedy.
Archbishop Mpundu further called for the reversal of the situation and announced that that the church stands in a singular position to spearhead the campaign.
“[I am informed that] every single month at the University Teaching Hospital 120 children below the age of 8 are abused. And these are numbers of children whom we know about. These cases reported to the police and followed up. But a greater number is not even known. This is a tragedy which must be reversed, and the church stands ready in a singular position to spearhead this campaign,” he said.
The ZCCB president further said that the cry of the Church is to mobilise everyone in the Church to fight the abuse of children.
“Let us put together whatever we have in terms of reflections to that we can move ahead. Our cry is to mobilise everyone in the church beginning from the family. Children are most abused by the people who know them,” he said.
“We have to mobilise Small Christian Communities, Lay Apostolic Movements, the Clergy, the Religious, just everyone to fight child abuse,” he added.
The ZCCB president also spoke against conspiracy silence on child abuse.
“There is conspiracy of silence in our society. Anything that elders do cannot go wrong. And if it goes wrong people try all ways to dismiss it. But in other parts of the world people are a lot more open about these things but here in Zambia and Africa in general we are silent,” he noted.
Archbishop Mpundu also said that the situation of child abuse must be reversed, for the future of children in Zambia depends on them.
“The future of this country is not our children of tomorrow, [but] our children of today. Because what happens to children today remains with them for rest of their lives. And this is contagious and goes from one generation to another. So protect the children,” Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu said.
“Our mission is out there. The mission of protecting our children. The church is not a society of mutual admiration. We are the salt of the world. We are sent on mission especially in our 126 years of our Christianity [In Zambia] so that the world out there can work with us,” he said.
“Our population is literally young, so we must protect our present. We must do something so that these young people grow up in an environment where they experience love and security,” Archbishop Mpundu emphasised.
And Secretary for the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors Monsignor Robert Oliver commended the Catholic Church in Zambia on its stance on the protection of children and minors.
The one day Child Protection workshop at Kapingila house in Lusaka which drew 46 participants from all the 11 dioceses of Zambia was organised by Pope Francis’ 2014 set Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
The Pontifical Commission goes around the world to promote local responsibility by assisting bishops, religious superiors and there conferences to develop guidelines, norms, and establish safe environments for children through mutual sharing of best practices.