One of the core beliefs of the Centre for Child Protection is that prevention programs are effective when people from different sectors come together in their area of expertise to address the complex problem of child sexual abuse. Theology must also have a voice in this collaboration.
The theological reflection on safeguarding published by CCPAS (The Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service) and developed by their board of trustees is a noteworthy contribution. The 14-page essay is summarized on their website. CCPAS is an independent and ecumenical Christian organization which has pioneered policies and good practice in safeguarding in the UK for some 40 years—more info can be found here. The document of CCPAS shows how safeguarding is at the heart of the Bible and God’s concern for the little ones. Jesus himself directs our attention to children as revelatory of God’s inner nature. The paper concludes that “it is clear that protecting children and all who are vulnerable, weak and oppressed is central to God’s character. Jesus demonstrated that children are to be cherished, valued and protected. He taught that they have a special place in his kingdom and his followers throughout history have worked and prayed for a future in which children are secure in the Father’s love.”
Pondering the deepest motivation for safeguarding is essential in order that the practical work of prevention might continue with the full energy it requires. As CCP president Hans Zollner SJ has also noted, “We see here before us a very large field of theological reflection which has not really been explored, because academic theology keeps its distance from an issue it has trouble comprehending. […] It is now important to reflect and to publish on the theological significance of abuse.” [Zollner, Hans. “Sexual Abuse in the Church: A Call to Change Our Way of Seeing Things.” Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection 81, no. 4 (April 12, 2017): 245–56.]