Pope leads prayers for migrants, trafficking victims on St. Bakhita’s feast day
St. Josephine Bakhita,Feast Day February 8, 2017. Born: 1869, in the village of Olgossa in the Darfur region of Sudan. Died: February 8, 1947. Canonized: October 1, 2000, Pope St. John Paul II.
Around February 1877, Josephine was kidnapped by Arab slave traders. Although she was just a child, she was forced to walk barefoot over 600 miles to a slave market in El Obeid. She was bought and sold at least twice during the grueling journey.
For the next 12 years she would be bought, sold and given away over a dozen times. She spent so much time in captivity that she forgot her original name.
At one point she placed her in the custody of the Canossian Sisters in Venice. While she was in the custody of the sisters, she came to learn about God. According to Josephine, she had always known about God, who created all things, but she did not know who He was.
She was baptized on January 9, 1890 and took the name Josephine Margaret and Fortunata, the Latin translation for her Arabic name, Bakhita.
When speaking of her enslavement, she often professed she would thank her kidnappers. For had she not been kidnapped, she might never have come to know Jesus Christ and entered His Church. On the evening of February 8, 1947, Josephine spoke her last words, “Our Lady, Our Lady!” She then died.
Pope Francis asked government officials around the world to “decisively combat this plague” of human trafficking, paying particular attention to trafficking in children. “Every effort must be made to eradicate this shameful and intolerable crime.”
Describing St. Bakhita as a “young woman who was enslaved in Africa, exploited, humiliated,” Pope Francis said she never gave up hope and, finally, she was able to migrate to Europe. “Let us pray to St. Josephine Bakhita for all migrants and refugees who are exploited and suffer so much,” the pope said.
Please read the report of the Pope’s address here: Pope – Prayers for Migrants
STATEMENT BY HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
TO THE “JUDGES’ SUMMIT ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND ORGANIZED CRIME”
On June 3, 2016 Pope Francis addressed the issue of Human Trafficking at the Judges’ Summit. The Pope made it clear that the Church must be involved in this issue and its political consequences. He reminded the participants of the Church’s involvement through the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, meetings with mayors of major cities, and now judges and prosecutors to work in cooperation with the United Nations.
He particularly mentioned the Sustainability Goals and number 8.7 to “take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms”.
He calls for society to work together to create “waves” and movements from top to bottom, to the centre, from leaders to small towns and all segments of society. Speaking directly to the judges he says that they continue to represent the primary attribute of society. He states, “I urge judges to carry out their vocation and their essential mission of establishing that justice without which there can be no order, or sustainable and integral development, or social peace.”
In his conclusion he says, “You are called to give hope and to administer justice.”
Please read the entire article here: Judges Summit
World Day Against Human Trafficking: A look at the numbers
On July 30, 2015 Pope Francis observed the “World Day Against Trafficking” by remarking, “I want to thank those who work with migrants, by helping them and supporting them through these difficult moments. Defending them against those who Blessed Scalabrini described as ‘merchants of human flesh.’ Those who want to enslave migrants.”
The Jesuit Refugee Service reports that human trafficking is growing to such a degree that it generates almost as much profit as drug trafficking and the illegal sale of weapons.
It’s estimated that every year, half a million women are lured to Europe under the promise of a job. In reality, they are subjected to sexual exploitation. According to UNICEF, an estimated 2 million children are forced into child prostitution.
According to the International Labour Organization, roughly 21 million people are practically slaves who work in the textile industry, construction or doing domestic work.
The Vatican is promoting a set of programs to that the vulnerable don’t turn into victims. In fact in mid-July, more than 65 mayors from the world’s main cities visited the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis and see how they too can collaborate and help stop these problems on an international level.
Canadian Government Response to Human Trafficking
The Government of Canada has launched a National Plan to Combat Human Trafficking which consolidates ongoing efforts of the federal government to combat human trafficking and introduces aggressive new initiatives to prevent human trafficking, identify victims, protect the most vulnerable, and prosecute perpetrators. The National Action Plan aims to better support organizations providing assistance to victims and it builds on our current responses and commitment to work together with our partners to prevent and combat this disturbing crime.
You can read the full plan here: National Plan