Safeguarding in Caritas: It is not an Option but a Moral Obligation

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“We need to recognize with humility and courage that we stand face to face with evil, which strikes most violently against the most vulnerable. For this reason, the Church has now become increasingly aware of the need to curb the cases of abuse by disciplinary measures and civil and canonical processes.” (Pope Francis)

Since 2019, Caritas Internationalis has strengthened its work to mainstream safeguarding across the confederation as part of Caritas mission to protect and promote the dignity of every person.  This effort finally resulted to the integration of Safeguarding as the fifth standard in the Caritas Internationalis Management Standard (CIMS) in December 2020, which marks Caritas commitment to assure integrity, protection and safeguarding at every level of the Confederation.

The fifth standard of the CI Management Standard has been rolled out to all the member organizations (MOs) in 2021, through a series of webinars organized by Caritas Internationalis in collaboration with the seven regional secretariats. The first of the webinars was held on 10 February 2021, wherein participants from the seven regions, including the regional secretariats and theregional focal persons on safeguarding took part in the Introductory Webinar on the 5th CIMS on Safeguarding.

Following the first introductory webinar and in pursuit of further rolling out the new management standards to all the MOs in Asia, Caritas Asia held its own regional introductory webinar on the same topic on 17 March 2021.. The webinar attracted a total of 88 participants coming from the 24 member organizations in Asia and one emerging member. The aim of the webinar was mainly to raise awareness on the importance of safeguarding and on the confederation mechanism to assess compliance of each MO with the safeguarding requirements. 

In his message, Dr. Benedict D’Rozario, Caritas Asia President mentioned that the additional fifth standard on Safeguarding has made CIMS becoming a more comprehensive tool. He also extended his hope that the webinar will help the MOs in Asia to adopt the new standard to MOs’ respective organizational and cultural context in order to continue to render quality services.

At the webinar, Mr. Ranjon Francis Rozario, Executive Director of Caritas Bangladesh and current Chair of the Asia Regional IDCS Committee, presented the importance of CIMS and Safeguarding as a pillar of the Caritas Confederation and Church’s mission. His presentation was followed  by the intorcudtory session of Ms. Moria Monacelli, the Head of IDCS Unit of Caritas Internationalis, who explained the roll-out phase of the revised CIMS and Safeguarding standard. The detailed changes in CIMS and the content of Safeguarding standard were presented by Ms. Annamaria Vrzáčková, CIMS Program Manager, and Ms. Irene Broz, Acting Safeguarding Focal Point of CI respectively.

Caritas, as part of Catholic church, is not immune to cases of abuse. In his pastoral reflection, Msgr. Pierre Cibambo, the Ecclesiastical Assistant of Caritas Internationalis, stated that it would be irresponsible to pretend that Caritas is not included in any kind of inhumane phenomenon. The presence of the fifth management standard on Safeguarding would enable each member organization to put in place the necessary tools and mechanism to prevent abuse at every level of the organization. In addition, the integration of Safeguarding into CIMS demonstrates Caritas effort to be recognised in a verifiable way as a safe organization for every person, particularly children and vulnerable adults.

The webinar participants are able to learn more about the revised CIMS and the fifth standard on Safeguarding in Baobab through the interactive e-learning platform in Baobab.