Message from Sr. Ellen Kelly Congregational Leader
The Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd has a mission that promotes the dignity and integral development of every person. For close to four hundred years, Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd has provided services to protect, care and empower girls, women and children who have faced conditions of violence, discrimination, poverty and other forms of social exclusion and personal vulnerability.
The Congregation, inspired by the mercy and love of God, has applied the best knowledge of each era to deliver such services, finding effective and creative ways to support the value of the human person in very diverse social contexts. Human dignity, spiritual reconciliation and the inherent human rights of each member of the human family have always been at the center of our ministry work.
However, as a Congregation of human beings and members of the global Roman Catholic Church, we have not been perfect and must acknowledge when we as individuals or as a Congregation have fallen short of our vision and duty of care. This has led us through a process of review of the practices and systems that have caused pain and trauma to children in our care or in the care of the Church and of religious people.
Because our mission involves situations and persons who are vulnerable and live in high-risk conditions, we must ensure to always adopt the highest spiritual, ethical and professional standards in dealing with them. For this reason, every Unit, every ministry, every community affiliated with our Congregation is required to comply with these Safeguarding Policy and Procedures, that are consistent with the highest international human rights standards. Child Safeguarding goes beyond the responsibility of one organization, as it calls for consistent advocacy actions at all levels to ensure that strong public policy creates a safe space for all children. Through our international and local Justice and Peace work, we are committed to this goal and promote systemic change in support of better safeguarding and protection policies.
With this document, we reaffirm that for our Congregation any form of abuse against children is unacceptable. Whatever the type of abuse, only a clear and consistent policy framework and effective procedures can prevent and fight against such forms of abuse.
In all of our ministries, and works, the Congregation is committed to ensuring that each child enjoys the benefit of a protective environment in which their rights are respected. The Congregation will update its rules relating to children’s rights on a regular basis, integrating the highest requirements according to international standards and current best practices.
The Congregation is aware that the risk of harming children’s integrity is very real, and this is why we are committed to widely promoting this policy, not only internally but also with partner organizations with whom we operate. In case of abuse or suspected abuse, our fundamental principle calls for an immediate and professional response that respects the legislation in force in the country and internationally. Each Unit Leadership Team, ministry and project, is to abide, affirm, and sign the present Policy, that will be used in all services and activities under their jurisdiction. If a Child Safeguarding Policy is already in force within the Unit, the Leadership will ensure that the existing Policy aligns in full with the present Policy. Leaders, directors and managers of ministries, programs and projects are to be responsible that all religious, staff, lay partners, and volunteers are aware of and in compliance with the present Congregational Child Safeguarding Policy.
Each Unit must adapt principles to their local, national, and regional realities and laws.
However, these adaptations must not be tp the child, e.g. accepting a different definition of child as in some countries it refers to anyone under the age of 16 years old or accepting the law that permits “child marriage”.
The Congregational Leadership Team, with the support of the Good Shepherd International Foundation and in close collaboration with Unit leaders and Circles of Provincials, will lead and support the effective implementation of this Policy, with adequate resources, to ensure that the Congregation at all levels has put in place all safeguards and systems to prevent and report any harm caused to children.
No ministries will be approved or continued without having a Child Safeguarding Policy aligned with the present one.
I thank you in advance for your commitment and zeal for upholding the right of each child.
Sr. Ellen Kelly
Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd