[Joy Mon­day]

First of all we would like to thank you for your tire­less and benev­o­lent atten­tion and con­cern for all migrants and vic­tims of traf­fick­ing. We have expe­ri­enced many dif­fi­cul­ties and a greet deal of suf­fer­ing before arriv­ing in Italy. Once we arrive in Italy we work hard to inte­grate, and find­ing dig­ni­fied work is near­ly impos­si­ble. Do you think that the sur­pris­ing silence sur­round­ing traf­fick­ing is due to igno­rance of the phenomenon?


Cer­tain­ly there is a lot of igno­rance on the top­ic of traf­fick­ing. But some­times there also seems to be lit­tle will to under­stand the scope of the issue. Why? Because it touch­es close to our con­science; because it is thorny; because it is shame­ful. Then there are those who, even know­ing this, do not want to speak because they are at the end of the “sup­ply chain”, as a user of the “ser­vices” that are offered on the street or on the Inter­net. There are, last­ly, those who do not want it to be talked about, because they are direct­ly involved in the crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tions that reap hand­some prof­its from 

traf­fick­ing. Yes, it takes courage and hon­esty, “when, in our dai­ly lives, we meet or deal with per­sons who could be vic­tims of human traf­fick­ing, or when we are tempt­ed to select items which may well have been pro­duced by exploit­ing oth­ers”.[1]

The work of rais­ing aware­ness must begin at home, with our­selves, because only in this way will we be able to then make our com­mu­ni­ties aware, moti­vat­ing them to com­mit them­selves so that no human being may ever again be a vic­tim of trafficking.

This seems like an eas­i­er task for young peo­ple, giv­en that they are less struc­tured in their think­ing, less con­fused by prej­u­dices, freer to rea­son with their own minds. The more enthu­si­as­tic and spon­ta­neous voice of young peo­ple can break the silence in order to denounce the atroc­i­ties of traf­fick­ing and pro­pose con­crete solu­tions. Adults who are ready to lis­ten can be of great help.

For my part, as you may have not­ed, I have nev­er missed an oppor­tu­ni­ty to open­ly denounce traf­fick­ing as a crime against human­i­ty. It is “a true form of slav­ery, unfor­tu­nate­ly more and more wide­spread, which con­cerns every coun­try, even the most devel­oped. It is a real­i­ty which affects the most vul­ner­a­ble in soci­ety: women of all ages, chil­dren, the hand­i­capped, the poor­est, and those who come from bro­ken fam­i­lies and from dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions in soci­ety”.[2]

I have also said that “what is called for, then, is a shared sense of respon­si­bil­i­ty and firmer polit­i­cal will to gain vic­to­ry on this front. Respon­si­bil­i­ty is required towards those who have fall­en vic­tim to traf­fick­ing in order to pro­tect their rights, to guar­an­tee their safe­ty and that of their fam­i­lies, and to pre­vent the cor­rupt and crim­i­nals from escap­ing jus­tice and hav­ing the last word over the lives of oth­ers”.[3]

[Sil­via Miglior­i­ni, Via Dal­mazia High School, Rome] 

Many of us young peo­ple would like to have a bet­ter under­stand­ing of traf­fick­ing, migra­tion and their caus­es. Yes, we would like to com­mit our­selves to mak­ing this world more just. We would like to address top­ics like this with the young peo­ple of our soci­ety, using social net­works too, see­ing their con­sid­er­able pow­er of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Dear Pope Fran­cis, in parish groups, in youth move­ments, in Catholic edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tions, some­times there are not ade­quate and suf­fi­cient avenues to address these top­ics. More­over, it would be nice if activ­i­ties were orga­nized to pro­mote social and cul­tur­al inte­gra­tion with those who are vic­tims of traf­fick­ing, so it would be eas­i­er for them to over­come their tragedy and rebuild a life. What can we young peo­ple do? What can the Church do?


Young peo­ple are in a priv­i­leged posi­tion to encounter sur­vivors of human traf­fick­ing. Go to your parish­es, to an asso­ci­a­tion near home; meet the peo­ple, lis­ten to them. Your response and con­crete com­mit­ment will grow from there. In fact, I see the risk that this may become an abstract issue, but it is not abstract. There are signs that you can learn how to “read”, which tell you: this could be a vic­tim of traf­fick­ing here, a slave. We need to pro­mote the cul­ture of encounter which in itself leads to an unex­pect­ed wealth and great sur­pris­es. Saint Paul gives us an exam­ple: in Christ, the slave Ones­imus is no longer a slave but much more; he is a beloved broth­er (cf. Philem 1:16).

You young peo­ple can find hope in Christ, and you can also encounter him in migrants, peo­ple who have fled from home, and who remain trapped in the net­works. Do not be afraid to encounter them. Open your heart, let them in, be ready to change. Encoun­ter­ing the oth­er nat­u­ral­ly leads to change, but there is no need to fear this change. It will always be for the best. Remem­ber the words of the Prophet Isa­iah: “Enlarge your tent” (cf. Is 54:2).

The Church must pro­mote and cre­ate spaces for encounter. For this rea­son I have request­ed that parish­es be opened for wel­com­ing. It is impor­tant to rec­og­nize the great task in response to my appeal, thank you! I ask you who are present here today to work in favour of open­ing up to oth­ers, espe­cial­ly when they are wound­ed in their dig­ni­ty. Become pro­mot­ers of ini­tia­tives that your parish­es can host. Help the Church to cre­ate spaces for shar­ing expe­ri­ences and inte­gra­tion of faith and of life.

Social net­works too, espe­cial­ly for young peo­ple, are a seem­ing­ly end­less oppor­tu­ni­ty for encounter: the Inter­net can offer more oppor­tu­ni­ties for encounter and sol­i­dar­i­ty among all, and this is a good thing; it is a gift of God. How­ev­er, for every instru­ment that is offered to us, the choice that mankind decides to make of it is fun­da­men­tal. The com­mu­nica­tive envi­ron­ment can help us to grow or, on the con­trary, to become dis­ori­ent­ed. The risks inher­ent in some of these vir­tu­al spaces must not be under­es­ti­mat­ed; through the web, many young peo­ple are lured and drawn into slav­ery from which it then becomes beyond their abil­i­ty to free them­selves. In this sphere, adults, par­ents and teach­ers — also old­er sib­lings and cousins — are called to the task of watch­ing over and pro­tect­ing youths. You must do the same with your rel­a­tives and friends: per­ceive and point out par­tic­u­lar vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, sus­pi­cious cas­es on which light must be shed.

Thus, use the web to share a pos­i­tive account of your expe­ri­ences of encounter with our broth­ers and sis­ters in the world, recount and share good prac­tices and gen­er­ate a vir­tu­ous circle.

[Faith Out­u­ru]

I am one of many young women who have come from a far­away coun­try, with a dif­fer­ent cul­ture, with dif­fer­ent life sit­u­a­tions and the expe­ri­ence of a dif­fer­ent Church. Now I am here and I would like to build my future here. But I think about my coun­try, of many young peo­ple who are mis­led with false promis­es, swin­dled, enslaved, pros­ti­tut­ed. How can we help these young peo­ple to avoid falling into the trap of illu­sions and into the hands of traffickers?


As you said, it must be ensured that young peo­ple not fall “into the hands of traf­fick­ers”. And how hor­ri­ble it is to real­ize that many young vic­tims were first aban­doned by their fam­i­lies, con­sid­ered as rejects by their soci­ety! Many were then intro­duced to traf­fick­ing by their own fam­i­lies and so-called friends. It hap­pened in the Bible too: remem­ber that the old­er broth­ers sold the young Joseph as a slave, and thus he was enslaved in Egypt!

Also in con­di­tions of extreme pover­ty, edu­ca­tion is shown to be impor­tant. It is an instru­ment of pro­tec­tion against traf­fick­ing; in fact it helps to iden­ti­fy dan­gers and to avoid illu­sions. A healthy school envi­ron­ment, like a healthy parish envi­ron­ment, allows young peo­ple to con­demn traf­fick­ers with­out shame and to become bear­ers of just mes­sages for oth­er young peo­ple, so that they do not wind up in the same trap.

All those who have been vic­tims of traf­fick­ing have been immea­sur­able sources of sup­port for new vic­tims, and extreme­ly impor­tant infor­ma­tion­al resources to save many oth­er young peo­ple. It is often fake news, spread via word of mouth or fil­tered through social media, that entraps the inno­cent. Young peo­ple who have encoun­tered orga­nized crime can play a key role in describ­ing the dan­gers. Traf­fick­ers are often peo­ple with­out scru­ples, with­out morals or ethics, who live on oth­er people’s mis­for­tunes, exploit­ing human emo­tions and people’s des­per­a­tion in order to sub­ju­gate them to their will, ren­der­ing them slaves and sub­servient. Suf­fice it to think how many very young African women arrive on our shores hop­ing to start a bet­ter life, think­ing they will earn an hon­est liv­ing, and instead are enslaved, forced into prostitution. 

It is fun­da­men­tal for young peo­ple to build their own iden­ti­ty step by step and to have a point of ref­er­ence, a guid­ing light. The Church has always sought to stand beside peo­ple who suf­fer, in par­tic­u­lar chil­dren and young peo­ple, pro­tect­ing them and pro­mot­ing their inte­gral human development.

Minors are often “invis­i­ble”, sub­ject­ed to dan­gers and threats, iso­lat­ed and easy to manip­u­late; we want, even in the most pre­car­i­ous sit­u­a­tions, to be your bea­con of hope and sup­port, because God is always with you.

“Courage and hope are qual­i­ties that every­one has, but they are most befit­ting in young peo­ple: courage and hope. The future is sure­ly in the hands of God, the hands of a prov­i­dent Father. This does not mean deny­ing dif­fi­cul­ties and prob­lems, but see­ing them, yes, as tem­po­rary and sur­mount­able. Dif­fi­cul­ties, crises, can with God’s help and the good will of all, be over­come, defeat­ed, trans­formed”.[4]

[Anto­nio Maria Rossi, Via Dal­mazia High School, Rome] 

We young Ital­ians are con­front­ed with a con­text marked more each day by the plu­ral­i­ty of cul­tures and reli­gions. It is an open chal­lenge. Often the lack of respect for the diverse, the throw-away cul­ture and cor­rup­tion — from which traf­fick­ing aris­es — seem nor­mal. Pope Fran­cis, please con­tin­ue to encour­age our gov­ern­ment lead­ers to fight cor­rup­tion, the arms trade and the throw-away cul­ture; also encour­age all reli­gious lead­ers to guar­an­tee spaces where dif­fer­ent cul­tures and reli­gions can get to know one anoth­er and appre­ci­ate each oth­er, so that all can share the same spir­i­tu­al­i­ty of hos­pi­tal­i­ty. I would like to ask you: what can we do here so that the scourge of traf­fick­ing dis­ap­pears definitively?


When coun­tries fall prey to extreme pover­ty, vio­lence and cor­rup­tion, the econ­o­my, the reg­u­la­to­ry frame­work and the basic infra­struc­tures are inef­fi­cient and are unable to guar­an­tee secu­ri­ty, goods and essen­tial rights. In such con­texts, the per­pe­tra­tors of these crimes act with impuni­ty. Orga­nized crime and the ille­gal traf­fick­ing of drugs and of human beings choose their prey from among the peo­ple who have the most inad­e­quate means of sub­sis­tence and even less hope for the future.

The response there­fore, is to cre­ate oppor­tu­ni­ties for an inte­gral human devel­op­ment, start­ing with a qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion in ear­ly child­hood, cre­at­ing sub­se­quent oppor­tu­ni­ties for growth through employ­ment. These two modal­i­ties of growth, in the var­i­ous phas­es of life, are anti­dotes to vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty and to trafficking.

What I have defined many times as “the throw-away cul­ture” is at the foun­da­tion of behav­iours which, in the mar­ket and in the glob­al­ized world, lead to the exploita­tion of human beings, on all lev­els. “Pover­ty, the needs and dra­mas of so many peo­ple end up being con­sid­ered normal”.5

Some states pro­mote, with­in the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty, a par­tic­u­lar­ly harsh pol­i­cy in seek­ing to defeat human traf­fick­ing; this atti­tude is in itself mis­lead­ing because, due to behind-the-scenes eco­nom­ic inter­ests, it does not seek to address the under­ly­ing caus­es. Fur­ther­more, the posi­tion on the inter­na­tion­al lev­el is not always coher­ent with inter­nal poli­cies. I tru­ly hope that you may send a mes­sage to the lead­ers at every lev­el of gov­ern­ment, of the busi­ness world and of soci­ety, ask­ing for access to a qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion and then, to fair and sus­tain­able employment.

One strat­e­gy which includes a greater aware­ness of the theme of traf­fick­ing, begin­ning with a clear ter­mi­nol­o­gy and with the con­crete tes­ti­monies of pro­tag­o­nists, can cer­tain­ly be of help. Real aware­ness about the top­ic, how­ev­er, devotes atten­tion to the “demand for traf­fick­ing” that is behind the offer (chain of con­sump­tion); we are all called to reject hypocrisy and to face the idea of being part of the prob­lem, rather than turn away pro­claim­ing our innocence.

Allow me to say, if there are so many young women vic­tims of traf­fick­ing who end up on the streets of our cities, it is because many men here — young, mid­dle-aged, elder­ly — demand these ser­vices and are will­ing to pay for their plea­sure. I won­der then, is the prin­ci­pal cause of traf­fick­ing real­ly the traf­fick­ers? I believe the prin­ci­pal cause is the unscrupu­lous self­ish­ness of the many hyp­ocrites in our world. Of course, arrest­ing traf­fick­ers is an oblig­a­tion of jus­tice. But the true solu­tion is the con­ver­sion of hearts, cut­ting off demand in order to dry out the market.

[Maria Mag­da­lene Savini]

Pope Fran­cis, in one of your mes­sages to the may­ors of large cities meet­ing in the Vat­i­can, you said that in order to be tru­ly effec­tive, the com­mon com­mit­ment to rais­ing eco­log­i­cal aware­ness and to com­bat mod­ern forms of slav­ery — traf­fick­ing of human beings and of organs, pros­ti­tu­tion, ille­gal labour — must start at the periph­eries.
[6] We young peo­ple also often find our­selves in the periph­ery and we suf­fer from exclu­sion, the uncer­tain­ty of not hav­ing work or access to qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion, liv­ing in sit­u­a­tions of war, of vio­lence, being forced to leave our lands, belong­ing to eth­nic and reli­gious minori­ties. We women, espe­cial­ly, are penal­ized and are the pri­ma­ry vic­tims. What space will be giv­en in the Syn­od on Young Peo­ple to the young women and young men who come from the periph­eries of mar­gin­al­iza­tion caused by an out­dat­ed devel­op­ment mod­el which con­tin­ues to cause human degra­da­tion? How can we ensure that these young men and women may be pro­tag­o­nists of change in soci­ety and in the Church?


I would like — for those who are real wit­ness­es to the risks of traf­fick­ing in their coun­tries of ori­gin — that they may find in the Syn­od a place to express them­selves, from which to call the Church to action. There­fore, it is my great hope that young peo­ple rep­re­sent­ing the “periph­eries” may be pro­tag­o­nists of this Syn­od. I hope they may see the Syn­od as a place to launch a mes­sage to the gov­ern­ing lead­ers of coun­tries of ori­gin and arrival in order to demand pro­tec­tion and sup­port. I hope that these young peo­ple may launch a glob­al mes­sage for a world­wide mobi­liza­tion of youth, so as to build togeth­er an inclu­sive and wel­com­ing com­mon home. I hope they may be exam­ples of hope for those who are expe­ri­enc­ing the exis­ten­tial tragedy of discouragement.

The Catholic Church intends to inter­vene in every phase of the traf­fick­ing of human beings: she wants to pro­tect them from decep­tion and solic­i­ta­tion; she wants to find them and free them when they are trans­port­ed and reduced to slav­ery; she wants to assist them once they are freed. Often the peo­ple who are trapped and mis­treat­ed lose the abil­i­ty to trust oth­ers, and the Church often proves to be the last lifeline.

It is absolute­ly essen­tial to respond in a con­crete way to the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of those who are at risk, so as to then guide the process of lib­er­a­tion begin­ning with sav­ing their lives. Eccle­sial groups can open safe havens where nec­es­sary, in places of recruit­ment, on traf­fick­ing routes and in coun­tries of arrival. My hope is that the Syn­od may be an oppor­tu­ni­ty for the local Church­es to learn to work togeth­er and become “a safe­ty net”.

Last­ly I would like to con­clude by quot­ing Saint Josephine Bakhi­ta. This great Sudanese woman “is even today an exem­plary wit­ness of hope for the many vic­tims of slav­ery; she can sup­port the efforts of all those com­mit­ted to fight­ing against this ‘open wound on the body of con­tem­po­rary soci­ety, a scourge upon the body of Christ’”.[7] May she inspire us to extend ges­tures of broth­er­hood to those who find them­selves in a state of sub­mis­sion. May she enable us to engage, to be called to the encounter.

Let us pray:

Saint Josephine Bakhi­ta, you were sold into slav­ery as a child and endured unspeak­able hard­ship and suffering.
Once lib­er­at­ed from your phys­i­cal enslave­ment, you found true redemp­tion in your encounter with Christ and his Church.
O Saint Josephine Bakhi­ta, assist all those who are entrapped in slavery;
Inter­cede on their behalf with the God of Mer­cy so that the chains of their cap­tiv­i­ty will be broken.
May God him­self free all those who have been threat­ened, wound­ed or mis­treat­ed by the trade and traf­fick­ing of human beings.
Bring com­fort to sur­vivors of this slav­ery and teach them to look to Jesus as an exam­ple of hope and faith so that they may find heal­ing from their wounds.
We ask you to pray for us and to inter­cede on behalf of us all: that we may not fall into indif­fer­ence, that we may open our eyes and be able to see the mis­ery and wounds of our many broth­ers and sis­ters deprived of their dig­ni­ty and their free­dom, and may we hear their cry for help.


[1] Mes­sage for the 48th World Day of Peace 2015, “No longer slaves, but broth­ers and sis­ters”, n. 6.

[2] Address to the New Ambas­sadors accred­it­ed to the Holy See on the occa­sion of the pre­sen­ta­tion of the let­ters of cre­dence, 12 Decem­ber 2013.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Meet­ing with the young peo­ple of the Dio­ce­ses of Abruz­zo and Molise, 5 July 2014.

[5]  Cat­e­ch­esis, Gen­er­al Audi­ence, 5 June 2013.

[6] Cf. Address to par­tic­i­pants in the Work­shop “Mod­ern slav­ery and cli­mate change: the com­mit­ment of the cities”, pro­mot­ed by the Pon­tif­i­cal Acad­e­mies of Sci­ences and of Social Sci­ences, 21 July 2015.

[7]  Mes­sage for the 48th World Day of Peace 2015, “No longer slaves, but broth­ers and sis­ters”, n. 6.