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ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE WORLD DAY OF PRAYER (12 February 2018), REFLECTION AND ACTION AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING

ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS  TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE WORLD DAY OF PRAYER (12 February 2018), REFLECTION AND ACTION  AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING
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http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2018/february/documents/papa-francesco_20180212_contro-tratta.html

 

[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?

ANSWER

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?

ANSWER

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?

ANSWER

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?

ANSWER

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?

ANSWER

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.
Amen.


 

[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.

 

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