human traffickingWe are our Sisters’ and Brothers’ Keepers



January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness month.  Women, men and children in the United States and around the world are forced into various forms of servitude, sex trade and forced labor.  February 8 is the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese girl who was forced into slavery at the age of 7.  Eventually she was freed but not before she experienced all the indignations of slavery.  Josephine was eventually canonized in 2000 by the Catholic Church.


In his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2016, Pope Francis spoke of the growing numbers of persons fleeing their homes because they have become the victims of violence and poverty.  Every day we hear on the news of the worldwide movements of persons fleeing their countries whether they are in Europe, Africa or from Central and South America and other corners of the globe.  Pope Francis states that these persons are often the targets of human traffickers offering them a better future.


Pope Francis has chosen the theme for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees:  Migrants and Refugees Challenge Us.  The Response of the Gospel of Mercy.  We cannot stand by as our brothers and sisters die of suffocation, starvation, violence and shipwreck or live in fear of being returned to their countries of origin where they live with the daily fear of violence and death.  This year has been dedicated to Mercy and Pope Francis calls upon all persons of good will to foster mercy by promoting good relationships with others and overcoming prejudice and fear of refugees and migrants coming to the shores of our countries.


As Pope Francis so clearly states: “Welcoming others means welcoming God in person!”  Human trafficking whether it be through the buying and selling of human persons, forced laborers in construction, agriculture or other markets, human organ trafficking or sexual exploitation is a blight on humanity.  Migrants and refugees are prime targets for these criminal organizations.


Pope Francis invites all of us not to be “robbed of the hope and joy of life born of your experience of God’s mercy, as manifested in the people you meet on your journey!”


For further information/reading:


“Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2016”  Ending Slavery is Everyone’s Work



                                                                                           Ann Kasparek