Human Trafficking. That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Pope Francis’ October universal prayer intention shocks us with the fact that human trafficking--kidnapping, transporting, selling, and buying men, women, and children—is, in fact, nothing less than slavery. Slavery is not some ancient historical practice human beings outgrew; slavery is rampant today.
According to the Global Slavery Index, over 30 million people around the world are slaves. Seventy-eight percent are enslaved for labor and 22 percent for sex. The country with the highest percentage of slaves is Mauritania, Africa, at 4 percent. In India over 14 million people are enslaved. Here in the U.S., more than 60,000 people are enslaved.
Pope Francis called human trafficking a “crime against humanity” and “an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ.”
The Pope made human trafficking the focus of his Message for this year’s World Day of Peace, noting the many kinds of slavery: modern slaves are people forced into labor, prostitution, selling or smuggling drugs, begging, or military service. Some are kidnapped for sale of their organs or held for ransom.
The Pope says sin is the deep cause of slavery. “Whenever sin corrupts the human heart and distances us from our Creator and our neighbors, the latter are no longer regarded as beings of equal dignity, as brothers or sisters sharing a common humanity, but rather as objects.”
Pope Francis ended his Message with the challenge: “We know that God will ask each of us: What did you do for your brother?” We can ask ourselves: what can I do to end human trafficking? Our prayer this month for the end of human trafficking is a beginning.
In what ways am I tempted to treat other people as means to an end?
Genesis 4:9-10 Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the soil.
Mission in Asia. That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.
Asia is the largest and most populous continent on earth. Even though less than 4 percent of its population is Catholic, 12 percent of the world’s Catholics live in Asia, 7 percent in the Philippines alone.
Pope Francis has shown his interest in Asia by visiting Turkey, the Middle East, South Korea, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines. He has said that he would go to China “tomorrow” if the government invites him.
So many Asians have not heard the Gospel that Pope Francis wants those who have accepted it there to be missionaries to their brothers and sisters. The Pope said that because the Philippines “is the foremost Catholic country in Asia...Filipinos are called to be outstanding missionaries of the faith in Asia.”
When the Pope met with young people for the 6th Asian Youth Day, he said that many people “are suffering from spiritual poverty, loneliness, and quiet despair. God seems to be removed from the picture. It is almost as though a spiritual desert is beginning to spread throughout our world.” But there is hope for our world.
“Today Christ is knocking at the door of your heart, of my heart. He calls you and me to rise, to be wide awake and alert, and to see the things in life that really matter. What is more, he is asking you and me to go out on the highways and byways of this world, knocking on the doors of other people’s hearts, inviting them to welcome him into their lives.”
As we pray this month for Asian missionaries, let us commit ourselves to being missionaries in our own daily lives. May the joy and peace our faith gives us open the hearts of others to the Lord.
What are some of the “spiritual deserts” that I find in my daily life?
2 Corinthians 5: 14-21 The love of Christ impels us.
PRAYER OF THE MONTH
O God, our words cannot express what our minds can barely comprehend and our hearts feel when we hear of people deceived and transported for purposes of exploitation because of human greed and profit. We cry out against the degrading practice of trafficking and pray for it to end. Strengthen the victims and send the exploiters away empty-handed. Amen.
--adapted from a prayer by Sister Gen Cassani, SSND
Links October 2015
- Pope Francis’ Address to a 2014 International Conference on Combatting Human Trafficking: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2014/april/documents/papa-francesco_20140410_tratta-persone-umane.html
- Pope Francis’ Address to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences on April 18, 2015: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2015/april/documents/papa-francesco_20150418_plenaria-scienze-sociali.html
- Pope Francis’ 2015 Message for the World Day of Peace: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/peace/documents/papa-francesco_20141208_messaggio-xlviii-giornata-mondiale-pace-2015.html
- Global Slavery Index: http://www.globalslaveryindex.org/
- Free the Slaves: http://www.freetheslaves.net/
- Pope Francis’ Homily to Bishops, Priests, and Consecrated Persons in the Philippines: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/homilies/2015/documents/papa-francesco_20150116_srilanka-filippine-omelia-cattedrale-manila.html
- Pope Francis’ Address to Young Filipinos: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2015/january/documents/papa-francesco_20150118_srilanka-filippine-incontro-giovani.html
- Pope Francis’ Address to the 6th Asian Youth Day: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2014/august/documents/papa-francesco_20140815_corea-giovani-asia.html
- Pope Francis’ Homily at the Closing Mass for the 6th Asian Youth Day: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/homilies/2014/documents/papa-francesco_20140817_corea-omelia-gioventu-asiatica.html