“Children have to be safe, have to be protected and have to be kept protected no matter what it costs.”
So said Archbishop Jason Gordon as he spoke on the issue of child abuse within children’s homes in Trinidad and Tobago following the celebration of Holy Mass Monday, June 6, for the memoria of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.
“The Church is mother [and] mother has to care for her children a lot better to ensure that each child is protected, and each child lives and has great space to love and to flourish,” the Archbishop said.
A 307-page Judith Jones report on children’s homes titled ‘Safeguarding Children in Community Residences and Child Support Centres in Trinidad and Tobago’ exposed allegations of sexual and physical abuse, overcrowding, poorly maintained facilities and even instances of self-harm.
Archbishop Gordon went on to state that he chose not to “rush into action” because “the problem is very deep”. He did however maintain that he has been having “very profound” conversations with key people to understand what’s the nature of the problem and “what’s the best thing we as Church can do to put it right…”
He shared, “You know my heart breaks when I hear some of the stories that have been coming out and I’m sure your heart breaks too when you when you hear it.”
Archbishop Gordon underscored that while he knows of many children who have come out of homes and have had “an exceptional beginning” and “have done really, really well”, one child being abused in a home or in a family is “one too many”.
He then asserted that the Catholic Church will do “everything” they can to ensure that they keep these homes as safe “as humanly possible”.
The Archbishop said later this week the Church will share the names of the small team of independent professionals who have agreed to work on recommendations to bring the homes to the highest standards of safety.