In 2015, Pope Francis declared February 8 to be the annual day of prayer and action against trafficking. The day coincides with the feast of St Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese saint who is patron saint of victims of slavery.
Human trafficking is the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them for sexual or labour purposes, domestic servitude, child begging or the removal of their organs. It is a modern form of slavery.
Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH), Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) and Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) are inviting Catholics to mark St Bakhita’s Day next Friday and at weekend Masses on February 9 and 10.
Sr Noelene Simmons SM, left, and Sr Monica Cavanagh RSJ (ACRATH/CRA)
ACRATH, CRA and ACBC have also called for Australia to have a four-fold commitment to slavery prevention, victim protection, the legal prosecution of perpetrators, and to creating partnerships for change. This commitment begins with awareness raising and action to eliminate slavery in all its forms at a diocesan, parish, school, family and personal level.