Friday, 8 February 2013

In England and Wales: a day of prayer for the victims of human trafficking

The Bishops of England and Wales have asked Catholics in their territories to keep today, the feast of St Josephine Bakhita, as a day of prayer for the victims of human trafficking.

This page at the website of the Bishops Conference gives some background, including the Collect for St Josephine Batkhita and an outline biography of her.

At a time when the United Kingdom receives more migrants than might have been the case in the past from the less prosperous countries of eastern Europe, this day of prayer has a particular relevance. That migration creates opportunities for human trafficking that did not previously exist. Conflict in non-EU countries, which can increase the flow of refugees into nearby EU countries who, once within the EU have much easier freedom of movement to other member countries, is another factor that creates opportunities for human trafficking.

The sexual exploitation of young people, both internationally and within the UK, is another aspect of the phenomenon of human trafficking. Indeed, the on-line exploitation of children could be seen as a form of "cyber-trafficking". Any form of trafficking represents an exploitation of the often vulnerable person who is trafficked; when the intentions behind that trafficking are sexual exploitation, then the nature of the crime takes on a paticularly horrific character.

In the background to this issue sits the call towards hospitality towards the stranger who lives in our midst. The United Nations places obligations on its member countries with regard to granting asylum to refugees; and the Catholic Church recognises its mission to migrants in the work of, for example, of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.
O God, who led Saint Josephine Bakhita from abject slavery
to the dignity of being your daughter and a bride of Christ,
grant, we pray, that by her example
we may show constant love for the Lord Jesus crucified,
remaining steadfast in charity
and prompt to show compassion.
Through Christ our Lord.

Taken from the Missal as the Collect for 8 February

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