Safeguarding Sunday

We encourage open communication whereby families and communities are informed of relevant issues and participate in decisions about the safety of children - Photo:canva.comWe encourage open communication whereby families and communities are informed of relevant issues and participate in decisions about the safety of children - Photo:canva.com

The Catholic Church in Australia marks Safeguarding Sunday (formerly Child Protection Sunday) on the second Sunday of September - at the conclusion of National Child Protection Week, whose theme this year is: Every child, every community deserves a fair go.

This year the Church will mark Safeguarding Sunday on 12 September. Safeguarding Sunday seeks to acknowledge the immense damage caused by the sexual abuse of children and adults at risk, including by priests, religious and lay people within Catholic contexts. It makes a commitment to practices and protocols that create and maintain safe environments for all people. It invites people to pray for those harmed by abuse directly and indirectly.

Ensuring that in our Church all people are safeguarded is central to our life as members of the Catholic Church. We are called to be a community that follows Jesus and attracts people to recognise God’s love. The Church is called to be a place of love, generosity, respect, forgiveness, prayer and hospitality - all the qualities found in Jesus’ life. The love and respect that Jesus shows in the Gospel stories must be shown in all Church decisions, meetings and relationships.  The way in which we do things must reflect our mission of witnessing to God’s love for all.

St Columbans Mission Society is actively committed to fostering communities of safeguarding that recognize and uphold the dignity and rights of all children. Our Child Safeguarding Commitment Statement – Australia, states: “We encourage open communication whereby families and communities are informed of relevant issues and participate in decisions about the safety of children. It is particularly important to us to look for avenues to empower children to have a say and be listened to.”

Safeguarding Sunday invites us to reflect on the relationships within our Church and to ask ourselves whether these relationships express respect for people, and especially vulnerable people, who are precious in God’s sight. In all of these relationships those with less power must be safeguarded. 

St Columbans Mission Society is actively committed to fostering communities of safeguarding that recognize and uphold the dignity and rights of all children. Our Child Safeguarding Commitment Statement – Australia, states: “We encourage open communication whereby families and communities are informed of relevant issues and participate in decisions about the safety of children. It is particularly important to us to look for avenues to empower children to have a say and be listened to.”

Prayer:

Gracious God, you love and care for all of your children, especially the smallest and most vulnerable. We entrust to you the lives of children and adults at risk who have been sexually abused, and whose trust and innocence have been destroyed. Help us to hear their cries of pain and to take responsibility for those whose lives have been broken. Help us to recognise the hurt felt by those wounded by abuse, and the failure to be heard.

We pray that with the help of your grace communities and families will find understanding and support, so that now and in the future their wounds may be healed and they may find lasting peace. Let your grace and love fall gently now upon our children and adults at risk, giving them the inner strength, peace and resilience to seek out assistance when required.

We ask this prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen

(Australian Catholic Bishops Conference)

Fr Kevin O’Neill SSC is a member of the Peace, Ecology & Justice office at the Columban Mission Center, Essendon.

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