February 8 marks the 6th World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action against Human Trafficking. The Church also celebrates the feast of Saint Bakhita, a nun of Sudanese origin, who became the universal symbol of the Church’s commitment against trafficking.

The numbers paint a grim picture; around the world there are over 40 million victims of modern slavery of which 70% are women, while about 20% are minors.

To highlight the plight of those enslaved and exploited men, women and children, Cardinal Michael Czerny SJ, Undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development will preside over a prayer vigil on Saturday evening at the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua in Rome.

Speaking to Vatican News’ Francesca Sabatinelli ahead of the Vigil, Cardinal Czerny said that February 8 was a day where everyone is invited to come together to pray for a “renewal and our strengthening in our struggle against human trafficking.”

“We need each other’s help and we need especially God’s help to open our eyes to what’s going on around us and also what’s going on far away, so that those who are caught up in human trafficking can be liberated; can be rehabilitated and can begin to live a life anew in a dignified and human way.”

February 8 also marks the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita and the Cardinal invited people to pray for her intercession “for all those who are caught up in human trafficking.”

“We pray for the conversion of those who are perpetrating it and we give thanks for the members of our Church especially the Sisters who are leading the ministry in favour of those who are suffering from human trafficking”, he said.

As part of the lineup of events this weekend, there will be a march on Sunday, entitled “Together against trafficking” which will start at 10 am from Castel Sant’Angelo and end in St. Peter’s Square at 12 noon local time.

The events are being co-ordinated by Talitha Kum, the International Network of Consecrated Life Against Trafficking.

A social media initiative has also been launched, supported by the hashtag #PrayAgainstTrafficking.

Pope Francis established the World Day in 2015, encouraging “those who are committed to helping enslaved, exploited men, women and children, […] to be the voice of these brothers and sisters of ours, humiliated in their dignity”.

In his prayer intention for the month of February 2020, Pope Francis calls the entire world to hear the cries of migrants, many of whom are victims of criminal human trafficking.

“We pray that the cries of our migrant brothers and sisters, victims of criminal human smuggling and human trafficking, may be heard and considered”, he says.

Cardinal Czerny on the fight against human trafficking

(Source: Vatican News)

“May God touch the hearts of traffickers so that there are fewer and fewer victims”

Supporting the fight against human trafficking is one of the priority tasks of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. For this reason, in this month of February we are supporting the anti-trafficking awareness raising campaign organised by Talitha Kum.

Talitha Kum is the International Network of Consecrated Life committed to assisting people who are easy prey to exploiters and traffickers because of their social vulnerability. In addition, it promotes prevention, and awareness-raising initiatives, while denouncing human trafficking and providing assistance and protection to victims.

“May God touch the hearts of traffickers so that there are fewer and fewer victims”, said Sister Carmen O.S.R. of Talitha Kum.

(Source: Migrants and Refugees Section)

Caritas prays for end to “lucrative market difficult to thwart”

Meanwhile, Church charity Caritas Internationalis invites the worldwide Caritas agencies today to join in a campaign of prayer against any form of modern slavery and to break the silence around this scourge of modern life.

Human trafficking is a global phenomenon which particularly affects peoples who are struggling.

According to the ILO (International Labour Organisation), some 40.3 million persons were victims of modern slavery (forced labor, sexual exploitation, organ selling, forced marriage, and child soldiers) in 2016.

This is a lucrative market which it is difficult to thwart.

For Aloysius John, the General Secretary of Caritas Internationalis, “Through its proximity to vulnerable people and its involvement in difficult situations, Caritas seeks to be an actor of liberation and to bear witness to the non-negotiable dignity of life and of the human person. Above all we want to promote an ‘ethic of concern’ in our society, that is, a sense of responsibility between one another which might be translated for instance into being attentive to whether what we purchase is the product of forced labor. Therefore, this month we make Pope Francis’ prayer intention for February our own, as since the start of his pontificate he has called for the eradication of this crime against humanity.”

Throughout the world, the Caritas family works alongside victims through numerous programs for social and professional reintegration, following the Pastoral Guidelines against Human Trafficking produced by the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

Caritas agencies have been fighting human trafficking since 1999 with a network of Christian organizations COATNET, which now includes 42 organizations. This network is a platform for sharing good practice, creating shared projects, and being involved in national and international advocacy around the question of human trafficking.

This Saturday, Caritas Internationalis will join in the time of prayer and reflection against human trafficking organised by the Talitha Kum (Aramaic for ‘little girl, get up’) association, brought to fruition in collaboration with a group of partner organisations including Caritas Internationalis.

(Source: Caritas via ZENIT)

Next on Novena:

“Blood money”: Francis denounces “dirty, underhanded… corruption” of human traffickers

Pope warns on migrant, human trafficking crises: “Our indifference is a sin!”


Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.