Children and young people as well as people with disabilities are particularly in need of protection. It is our task as a church relief organisation to strengthen their rights and development and to protect them from dangers, including exploitation, sexual violence and abuse. This task can only succeed if we work together with our partners and project implementing organizations in a trusting atmosphere.
Renovabis has longstanding and open cooperations with its partners based on mutual trust. However, Renovabis does not itself implement projects within the framework of project funding, but supports the projects of its partners in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Thus Renovabis cannot bear any legal responsibility and liability in the sense of personnel and technical supervision in the funded projects and cannot act directly on site or in the project in the event of abuse.
Yet Renovabis is of course committed to the moral responsibility towards all children and vulnerable persons in the projects we support. We want to contribute to raising awareness among our partners and in the churches of the project countries and thus initiate effective mechanisms to prevent abuse of children and adolescents as well as adult charges. This is why for us, comprehensive prevention and the creation of effective structures for the prosecution of suspected cases of abuse of all kinds go hand in hand.
In addition to internal administrative measures for prevention, cooperation with our partners in Germany and abroad is particularly important to us in order to effectively protect children in East and West from all sorts of abuse. Here Renovabis is involved in multiple ways:
In our work in Germany:
- Renovabis employees take part in training courses.
- In public relations, we handle images, texts and audio material responsibly.
- We network with other relief organizations and actors in order to jointly develop good approaches in the field of prevention.
In partner communication:
- We discuss the topic with our partners (bishops, religious communities, parish priests, associations, Caritas organizations etc.).
- We encourage our partners to deal with the topic in a preventive and proactive way.
- We support partners in the development of protection policies and the implementation of training courses.
In project funding:
- When examining relevant project applications, we always ask about the protection policy for children and other vulnerable groups and include it in the evaluation of the application.
- In the project agreement, the project partners undertake to comply with applicable secular and church law and to take all appropriate measures to prevent sexualized violence against minors and adult charges.
- We support projects to create protective structures.
- We promote the development of competences in the field of child protection in Eastern Europe (e.g. through scholarships and conferences).
Our experience shows that our partners are increasingly sensitive to the issue and have already taken numerous steps to better prevent abuse.
Examples from our project work
- In Poland, Renovabis supported the establishment of a Centre for Child Protection (COD) at the Ignatianum Academy in Krakow for the period 2015-2017. The public debate on the sexual abuse of minors in church and society and the Polish Episcopate's help in protecting minors against sexual assault have triggered an improvement in the protection of minors far beyond the boundaries of the church. This approach is institutionally consolidated by the Centre for Child Protection.
- In September 2019, the Croatian Bishops' Conference and the Catholic University of Zagreb organized a European conference on "Education and Prevention". The aim of the four-day conference with participants from different countries of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe was the training of employees in schools, kindergartens, hospitals or institutions for people with special needs, in which the beneficiaries are particularly dependent on the service providers.
- As part of Renovabis' support for scholarship holders, a scholarship was awarded in 2018 for five months of training in child protection. The scholarship holder from the Czech Republic, a lawyer, successfully completed this training course at the Gregoriana University in Rome in 2019 and passes on her knowledge to church leaders in her diocese.
Procedure for suspected cases
If there is a reference to a case of abuse in a project currently supported by Renovabis, our case management will take effect:
- Immediate research and direct enquiry to the partner with the request for information about the case as well as about any steps already taken.
- If necessary, Renovabis country responsibles will visit the partner or the project, or an external inspection will be commissioned. For clarification, relevant bodies are involved, e.g. episcopal representatives for the examination of suspected cases on site.
- In the event of insufficient information or handling of the case by those responsible for the project in the partner country, the disbursement of funds already approved will be suspended for as long as the uncertainty persists. It is possible that planned follow-up funding requests will not be approved.