The Roman Catholic Diocese of Novaliches on Wednesday launched its policy of providing protection to children and vulnerable adults involved in Church activities of any kind.
Speaking during the launch, Bishop Roberto Gaa spoke about the need of stakeholders to come on board and support the Church in creating a safe environment for children in parishes.
He said the policy document reflects the Church’s desire for care towards children and vulnerable populations.
“It is something that is long awaited, it is something that we need,” Gaa said.
The policy, according to him, has been the product of years of work and study in at least 10 parishes of the diocese.
“Now we draw up the policies so that it can be replicated, and it can be echoed in other forums,” the bishop said.
While most dioceses in the country already have their own Office of Safeguarding, Gaa said that Novaliches is the third diocese that had launched a policy so far.
“But our hope really is for us to come up with an operational institution or structure to really care for the children and vulnerable adults, to protect them, to prevent any harm and to continue to care for those who have been harmed,” he said.
Fr. Antonio Labiao, the diocese’s vicar general, revealed that protection of minors and vulnerable adults is now part of the core values of the diocese.
He said the diocese has also come up with specific pastoral goals for the next three years concerning protection of children.
“Safeguarding is not only a project but our mission as a diocese,” Labiao said. “Creating a safe environment for everyone, especially children and vulnerable adults is the heart of what we are doing as a Church.”
The priest said that part of the pastoral goal is to have a “safeguarding team” in each of the diocese’s 73 parishes.
The purpose of the policy, he explained, is to provide a managing strategy to prevent child abuse and to protect children and vulnerable adults in the parishes.
The document will also provide parishes and partners with clear guidelines in case of a suspected child abuse.