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Creating a slave-free world PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 08 February 2015 – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Praise the Lord who heals the broken-hearted

08 February: Feast of St Josephine Bakhita / World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action Against Human Trafficking

St Josephine BakhitaToday is the Feast of St Josephine Bakhita, who died on 8 February 1947. She was born in Southern Sudan in 1869, and during her life experienced kidnapping and slavery. Following her delivery to freedom Josephine dedicated her life to sharing her story and to supporting the poor and suffering. She eventually became a Canossian Sister, living a life of prayer and service for fifty years. She was canonised in 2000.

On this Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Pope Francis asks us to think of persons trafficked into prostitution, as well as women forced into marriage, without any right to give or withhold their consent. We remember also people trafficked into Australia to work in the agriculture, construction and hospitality sectors. And we remember people whose labour is exploited to produce cheap goods for Australians. We remember young boys in West Africa who are trafficked into the cocoa production for Australian chocolate. We remember refugees in Thailand who are trafficked onto fishing vessels to produce cheap fish for Australians to eat. We remember the women in Bangladesh whose exploited labour and unsafe working conditions result in cheap clothing for Australians to wear. We also remember the 200 female students kidnapped in Nigeria in April 2014 by Boko Haram; reports suggest that many of these girls have been sold or forced into marriages.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans call for a fourfold commitment to prevention, victim protection, the legal prosecution of perpetrators, and partnerships for change; these require a global effort on the part of various sectors of society.

Extract from Joint statement from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans

On this Feast Day of St Josephine Bakhita, we pray for the millions of people who have been victims of modern day slavery. Like St Josephine Bakhita, may we stand firm in our resolve to create a slave-free world.