The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has released a statement in advance of the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children, which is on Sunday 20th November 2011.
“This Sunday, 20 November 2011, is the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children. This day has been promoted by UNICEF, Religions for Peace, Save the Children and other agencies to focus the world’s attention on the well-being of our children. In every faith community, our children are the treasure that we value beyond price. A child born into health and safety is a sign of hope in our common life. In children we recognise the preciousness and dignity of the human being as well as a vulnerability which calls for our care and protection.
The theme for this year is ‘stop violence against children’. Violence against children will take many forms in different contexts – all demanding our action and prayer. After visiting Eastern Congo earlier this year, I particularly hold in my prayers those children who are affected by armed conflict. I met children who had suffered unimaginable horror, attacked, abducted, forced into brutalizing ways of life – and yet, amidst the anguish, I also encountered precious flames of hope, where local churches and communities strove to protect and restore the lives of their children. I had the privilege of meeting a group of young people who are now involved in a peace initiative. They had been taken into the militia as children and forced to perpetrate terrible acts, and yet the Church continued to reach out to them and call them back. Many said to me: “The Church never gave up on us.” I know that UNICEF has supported faith communities doing similar work to rehabilitate child soldiers in other countries.
In Eastern Congo I also witnessed the work of faith communities helping children who had been subjected to sexual violence. I heard of churches and their communities which had repeatedly rebuilt their schools, destroyed in conflict. They said that their children and their children’s future were far too precious not to act, and act again.
I urge us all, in churches and other faith communities all around the world, to unite in this World Day of Prayer and Action for the protection and flourishing of our children.”