Pastoral Challenge of the Culture of Care and Prevention of Abuse of Minors and Vulnerable Persons

21 March 2022
Colegio Claret Panama, Awareness Day

In the Educational Community of the Claret School in Panama, 52 teachers and directors, in this month of March 2022, during the weeks of organization and preparation for the on-site start of classes; guided by Beatriz Salazar Garzón and Anabel Fabiola Atencio Villar; RMI Claretian Missionary Sisters; in two intensive days of workshops, the “Pastoral challenge of the culture of care and prevention of the abuse of minors and vulnerable persons” in the educational pastoral context was dealt with, with the aim of awakening sensitivity, motivation, knowledge and its incidence in the Claretian missionary educational pastoral prophetic commitment in Panama.

From our shared life and mission in Colegio Claret – Panama, we reaffirm that we want to make more transparent the proclamation of the Gospel that as baptised, disciples of Jesus Christ, we must proclaim through preaching and the testimony of life. We affirm that verbal, psychological or sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable adults goes against the principles of the Gospel, and we will not allow or consent to this happening in this Claretian missionary educational community in which we carry out the evangelising mission entrusted by the Church.

The participants recognised the implications of the pastoral challenge of care and prevention of child abuse, from the approach to the risk and protection factors that children and adolescents live in the pastoral educational environment and in the Panamanian context, they became aware of their ecclesial commitment as disciples, baptised and sent, they became aware of their own personal history and enlightened by the Word of God in the mystery of the incarnation, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus; They worked as a team, shared their creative talents and experiences, and discussed the current directives of the Church and of the Congregation of the Religious of Mary Immaculate Claretian Missionary Sisters. We hear the urgent call of the Church through Pope Francis; the first key aspect of prevention is conversion of heart. Sexual abuse is the result of actions that are framed by spiritual abuse, abuse of power and abuse of conscience. The second aspect is the “spirituality of prevention“. The third aspect is the actions aimed at making concrete the culture of good treatment and the constitution of healthy and safe spaces in our pastoral instances and communities.

We approached the Congregation’s Protocol Manual for the Protection of Minors and from what we already have as an educational Institution, we reflected, confronted and made practical commitments, both personal and for the whole educational community, to self- education, training and reformulation of our own protocol for the Protection of minors and vulnerable people and to greater dedication to the culture of care, good treatment and prevention. We are on the way to “being aware that the sexual abuse of minors, vulnerable people and other victims stains and detracts from the credibility of the mission, but, above all, is in contradiction with the command of Jesus Christ to protect the poorest and most helpless in society” (cf. Matt 18:7,10).

With these intense days of awareness-raising, our educational institution Colegio Claret in Panama reaffirms its commitment to assume the demands of the mission entrusted to us: to defend and protect the minors in our care from any kind of abuse and to offer them a safe environment in which they can develop and be formed peacefully and harmoniously as persons and as Christians.

The approach to the Manual – Protocol of the Congregation in which the principles of the Catholic Church, the dispositions of the Magisterium[1] and the norms of the Congregation are assumed and applied, motivates us to dynamise the work as teachers in our Claret School in Panama:

We see the need to shape a culture of protection and security for children, adolescents and vulnerable people, that is, a normal and habitual way of living, relating and working in which those we serve, especially minors, always feel respected, safe and loved.

It is urgent, opportune and effective that as teachers and directors, participants of this Claretian family:

Now, after two years of virtual schooling for Pandemic COVID 19, we are going to continue the “journey together” as “Apostles of prevention who never tire of searching for paths of hope”.

Beatriz Salazar Garzón, rmi

Claretian Missionary Sister, Panama Community

[1] JOHN PAUL II Motu Proprio “Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela” (SST), Vatican City, 30 April 2001; CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH (CDF), Letter to the Bishops… concerning the modifications introduced in the Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela. FRANCISCO, Like a mother, Città del Vaticano, 4 giugno 2016; Motu Proprio “On the protection of minors and vulnerable persons”, 26 March 2019; Legge CCXCVII Sulla protezione dei minori e delle persone vulnerabili; Linee guida per la protezione dei minori e delle persone vulnerabili, Vicariate of Vatican City, 26 March 2019; Motu Proprio “Vos estis lux mundi” (VELM), Vatican City 7 V 2019.

During these days, the text “María Antonia París, friend and companion in the journey” is being distributed.