Safeguarding Sunday

so that now and in the future their wounds may be healed and they may find lasting peace. - Photo:canva.com...so that now and in the future their wounds may be healed and they may find lasting peace. - Photo:canva.com

The Catholic Church in Australia marks Safeguarding Sunday on the second Sunday of September. It occurs at the conclusion of National Child Protection Week, whose theme this year is: “Every child in every community needs a fair go”.

This year the Church will mark Safeguarding Sunday on 11 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.

Safeguarding Sunday was affirmed by the members of the Plenary Council of Australia, who in the decrees expressed “our profound sorrow that children and young people and vulnerable adults have been abused by clergy, religious and lay workers of the Catholic Church, and that religious leaders have failed to act sufficiently to prevent or respond to abuse”.

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.”

Safeguarding Sunday 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

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

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