Africa/Guinea Bissau – Conference: to prevent sexual abuse on minors in the Church
A formation meeting was held on 21 May in Bissau for the men and women religious of the diocese of Bissau and Bafatá, organized by the Conference for Consecrated Life and Society of Apostolic Life of Guinea Bissau (COVICGB) on the theme: “Child sexual abuse in the Church”.
Speaker during the seminar was Fr. Francelino Antonio Nhaga, who holds a licentiate in Canon Law and Civil Law and professor of Canon Law at the major seminary of Bissau. The seminar was attended by about one hundred men and women religious.
The canonist presented in detail the laws on sexual abuse on minors in the light of the law in force in Guinea Bissau and of Canon Law. “In the event of confirmation of the crime, the Church provides for harsh sanctions against the clergy who sexually abuses the child”, said Fr. Francelino Nhaga.
One of the participants in the meeting, Sr. Silvia Mendonza, deputy secretary of COVICGB, underlined the importance for consecrated persons of being aware of the promises made to God: “God has called us for a service within the Church, He has called us to consecrate our whole life and our body to Jesus, because if we consecrate ourselves to God we will not feel the need to think of other things”, concluded the sister.
The meeting of the men and women religious took place a month after a similar meeting on the topic dedicated to the diocesan priests. These meetings also follow the meeting at the Vatican in February of Pope Francis with the Presidents of Episcopal Conferences around the world, in which the Holy Father had asked the Bishops to take the necessary measures to prevent child abuse in the Catholic Church.
So far there have been no reports of cases of sexual abuse on minors by members of the Catholic Church in Guinea-Bissau. However, the document of the local Bishop’s Conference on pastoral guidelines on sexual abuse on minors is in an advanced stage, in accordance with the guidelines of the universal Church and the laws in force in the Country.