In any organisation today, safeguarding is a vital component of the way in which people work, think and communicate – and the Catholic Church is no exception.
In July 2021 the Catholic Safeguarding Agency (CSA) was formed to ensure that all dioceses are regulated to meet national standards in safeguarding. The training and implementation template that the CSA has established is now seen as a model example of best safeguarding practices.
Through the creation of clear structures and guidance, and a focussed programme of leadership training our churches have become safe and welcoming places. Clergy, staff and volunteers are safely recruited, victims and survivors are carefully listened to and correctly supported, using transparent and accountable processes that are increasing being replicated across other sectors.
Core safeguarding training takes place at three levels:
BASIC LEVEL 1 – as its name implies this is designed to give workers and volunteers a basic introduction to safeguarding practices.
FOUNDATION LEVEL 2 – is primarily for those working in leadership roles with children and young people, and includes a deeper exploration of definitions of abuse, how to recognise their signs and symptoms and the correct responses and actions to take.
ADVANCED LEVEL 3 – designed for those already in safeguarding and Church leadership roles, Level 3 explores safer working practices, risk assessment of activities, reporting responsibilities, and the relationship with statutory agencies, including DBS, the Police and insurance providers.
One of the organisations at the forefront of safeguarding training is the Carmelite Priory in Oxford, where the prior, Fr. Alexander Ezechukwu, OCD, has spearheaded an initiative in collaboration with a team of friars and laypeople to develop a comprehensive safeguarding policy for CACS and the Oxford priory.
This has now been developed into an intensive safeguarding training programme centred on Carmelite spirituality, and catered to individuals engaged in spiritual direction and pastoral ministries within churches.
Carmelite spirituality encourages growth in intimacy with God in the midst of ordinary life. It is a spirituality of the heart that recognises the indwelling presence of God and sharing God love with others.
One of the course leaders is Fr Liam Finnerty, OCD, who holds degrees in Theology and Social Work from Milltown Institute, Dublin and Glasgow University, respectively.
“Our theology of safeguarding within the Carmelite Tradition is influenced by the works of Saint Teresa of Ávila and centres around the principles of respect for human dignity, compassion and care, community responsibility and justice and advocacy,” says Fr Liam.
“We recognise that Christian communities haven’t always been safe spaces for minors, and adults who are vulnerable, and are addressing this through training, policies and procedures and in establishing a culture of safety informed by Carmelite spirituality.”
Safeguarding leadership training based on Carmelite spirituality highlights the sacred and vital mission of safeguarding, and is already being applied in a wide range of settings, both religious and secular. At the last session, 60 participants attended from throughout the UK, Europe, North America and Africa, underscoring the extensive reach of CACS’s mission.
Contact CACS at email@example.com to find out more about the next training session – The Carmelite Spirituality of Safeguarding – which will take place on January 13th, 2024, 4pm-7.30 pm (UK time).
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“As long as we love one another God will live in us and his love will be complete in us.”