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70 People to Gather for Conference on Child Protection in April

25/03/2016: General House

Around 70 people will gather for a conference that aims at encouraging all of the Institute’s administrative units to adopt concrete child protection policies and put them into practice.

Forty-eight delegates and provincials, the general council, guest speakers and staff of Marist International Solidarity Foundation Onlus, or FMSI, will gather from April 18 – 22 at the general house in Rome for a second time after meeting in 2012. 

In the previous meeting, the administrative units received guidelines and were asked to prepare concrete policies and action plans locally.  

“This meeting is to offer assistance and follow up on each administrative unit’s own policy and action plan,” said general councillor Brother Michael De Waas. “During the conference, we hope to meet with Provincials and delegates who really require our assistance.”

“I think it is an important topic right now given the urgent call to keep children safe all over the world due to various circumstances,” he told the general house press office on March 13. “We feel responsible to do our part.”

The event is being organised by FMSI with the guidance of the general council. Guest speakers will include Father Hans Zollner SJ, member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and president of the Centre for child protection at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University. 

Agnes Wich, from Germany, will present her testimony, and district superior of West Africa Brother Francis Lukong will speak about bullying.

Another guest will be Laura Pérez, who will reflect on her experience in advocating for children in Ghana, particularly against corporal punishment.

The gathering’s preparatory commission includes Brothers Manel Mendoza of the FMSI office in Geneva, Brendan Geary, provincial of West Central Europe, Lluis Serra from L’Hermitage and Michael De Waas. 

They met from Jan. 4 – 6 in Barcelona and will meet again on April 4 – 5 in Rome to prepare the conference.

“After the conference, we hope to be more proactive in this field offering all necessary help that our administrative units require from us,” stated Br Michael.  

“We feel it’s our responsibility and vocation to provide a safe environment to children and young people when they have been entrusted to our care – we need to look after them,” he added. “This is also our positive response to the call of Pope Francis.”

The director of FMSI’s Rome office, Brother Mario Meuti, underscored that the goals of the meeting are to assess the situation in the provinces about the measures to protect children from all forms of abuse including sexual, corporal punishment and physical and verbal violence.

Other aims include sharing experiences, listening to meaningful testimonies and encouraging new initiatives to implement the measures already in place.

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