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Marists seek to raise awareness on child protection

 

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Workshop held in Dhaka for Catholic institutions

16/07/2015: Bangladesh

Marists in Bangladesh are hoping to raise awareness on the rights and protection of children with the collaboration of bishops and other religious superiors.

“We, Marists, from our Marist Child Protection Desk, offer formation and advice for proper implementation and monitoring of policies in Catholic institutions,” said Brother César Henríquez on July 13. “We will seek to do so in close collaboration with the bishops and superiors, who are primarily responsible for this.” 

His comments came after a five day workshop on child protection in the country’s capital, Dhaka, organized by the Marist brothers from July 7-11.

“We don’t have a list of rules since it is not up to us to establish them, it’s the bishops with the guidelines received from the Vatican that need to do this,” Br César told the general house press office. 

“Our purpose is to raise awareness of the need to ensure protective environments in Catholic institutions in this country that serve boys, girls and adolescents including schools, boarding schools, orphanages and clinics,” continued the Marist, originally from El Salvador. 

Pope Francis wrote a letter on Feb. 2 to bishops and superiors underscoring that “families need to know that the Church is making every effort to protect their children” and that “they should also know that they have every right to turn to the Church with full confidence, for it is a safe and secure home.”

“Consequently, priority must not be given to any other kind of concern, whatever its nature, such as the desire to avoid scandal, since there is absolutely no place in ministry for those who abuse minors,” wrote the pontiff.

Br César stressed that the Marists “will continue to promote adopting policies of child protection in the diocese and to give advice to Catholic instiutions.”

Nearly 40% of the population in Bangladesh is under the age of 18 and he noted that “child labour, human trafficking, child marriage, malnutrition, lack of access to health and education, floods, diseases and poverty are very common realities here.” 

Although he praised the Catholic Church saying it “helps many children in vulnerable situations,” the brother showed concern adding that “it’s necessary to ensure in an efficient manner and not only based on good will - which is not bad, certainly, but not enough - that these children are in a place that is protective and that ensures their full development.”

The workshop, held at the Catholic Bishops Conference of Bangladesh, included 50 participants from six dioceses and 12 religious congregations.

Archbishop George Kocherry, the Vatican Nuncio to Bangladesh, was also among the participants.

Catholics including priests, religious and lay people oversee 124 boarding houses, hostels and orphanages, as well as over 150 schools in Bangladesh.

The gathering was organised by the Marist Brothers in partnership with the Episcopal Justice and Peace Commission and was sponsored by FMSI.

Br César coordinated the workshop and stressed that organizing it “was a community task.”

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