Categories for Catholic Church

Cardinal Nichols: Ukrainian Mothers & Children Rescued From Human Traffickers

June 9, 2022

Nearly 30 mothers and children were rescued after a bus intending to traffic them was stopped when a mother called a number she received from an anti-trafficking leaflet.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, shared this as an example of a best practice implemented to combat the scourge of anti-trafficking as part of the efforts of the Santa Marta Group.

The English Cardinal who leads the Santa Marta Group was speaking at a press conference in Vatican Radio’s headquarters, following the Group’s encounter with Pope Francis on Thursday morning in the Vatican.

Enormous challenge

Responding to the question from Vatican News on how the war in Ukraine has impacted human trafficking and their best practices, Cardinal Nichols recalled very informative and inspiring reports from the police forces of Poland and Lithuania.

“It is just an enormous challenge,” he noted, stressing the war in Ukraine has caused the largest movement of people in a short time across borders in Europe for 60 or 70 years.

“A positive” aspect which the Cardinal shared was “that because of some of the partnerships that have already been established, within a matter of hours, leaflets had been prepared warning those who were crossing the border against the dangers of being trafficked.”

Saving real people

Those leaflets, he noted, had a contact number, and one of them was passed out to a Ukrainian woman who then narrowly avoided falling into the hands of human traffickers.

This, he said, is a specific example of the many “stories of speedy action attributed to existing patterns of cooperation.”

The Cardinal warned that authorities are fighting an uphill battle.

“It was pointed out to us that, to begin with, the better-educated, probably better-off people, were those able to get to the border,” he noted, explaining that “those coming now are the poorer people who have less resilience and fewer resources.” He acknowledged that “the strain is being felt everywhere.”

Read the full article by Deborah Castellano Lubov on Vatican News.

Northern California Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking: Updates

May 15, 2022

COVID TIMES

During the past several years, the work of the coalition was affected by Covid-19.  We have been unable to visit businesses with anti-human trafficking posters, to gather volunteers for education or activities, or to give presentations to parish groups.  We did, however, become more proficient in Zoom meetings and continued our monthly gatherings at which we discussed online activities and legislative advocacy, welcomed guest speakers, and shared ideas from counties and local groups in which individual coalition members participate.

One of the yearly projects of the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking (SFCAHT) is a teen contest in which students submit depictions of human trafficking according to a given theme in poster, essay and musical form.  As a result of this contest, teens study and learn about human trafficking and become aware of its dangers and how to recognize it.  For several years, the coalition has assisted with this project by providing information and materials about these contests to Catholic high schools in the Bay Area.

The theme for the 2022 contest was “Shine Light on the Darkness.” One of the winning posters, among the many amazing contributions, is:

The San Joaquin County Human Trafficking Task Force hopes to inspire teens in their county to study human trafficking and to submit their entries next year for the End It Summit that takes place annually on January 11, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

WORK CONTINUES ON SB 1193

As our state opens up more, our work continues on updating and placing notices about human trafficking in businesses that are required by law to post the information.

Sister John Paul Chao, smsm, worked for months to update the poster and the letter from the Alameda County D.A.’s office.  She is pictured here with the Assistant D.A. in charge of human trafficking, Sharmin Bock, and the H.E.A.T. Watch (Human Exploitation and Trafficking) Coordinator, Fiona Bock, who gave her hundreds of copies of the new poster and letter. With these in hand, Sister John Paul and her faithful volunteers are once again on the road visiting bars, massage parlors, hotels, and 10 other business establishments.

A FOND FAREWELL

Sister Marie Jeanne Gaillac, CSJ, worked tirelessly in numerous Coalition projects since the beginning of the Coalition in 2006.
In more recent years, she was very instrumental in helping to establish the Interfaith Subcommittee of the SF Collaborative Against Human Trafficking.  At their annual award ceremony this year, Sister Marie was recognized for her tireless work: “Age is easy to measure. Passion is not. Sister Marie has shown us that a passion for human trafficking victims has no age limits. In 2006 at the age of 76, Sister Marie became one of the founding members of the Northern California Catholic Sisters against Human Trafficking.  For 16 years, she was a dedicated, tireless and very active member.”

In April, at the age of 92, Sister Marie moved to the retirement center of the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Orange County. You will be sorely missed by all, Sister Marie. We wish you all the best in your new home!

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD

The Senate has introduced a critical bi-partisan anti-trafficking bill – The Abolish Trafficking Reauthorization Act of 2022 (S. 3946) will reauthorize The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2017.  For over 20 years, the TVPA has helped protect vulnerable children and provide services for survivors of exploitation. Among other things, this new bill would reform current standards for child sex crime victims who were forced into the criminal justice system.  Call your senators today and ask them to vote to reauthorize this bill.  The U.S. Capitol switchboard number is: Capitol switchboard number is:                                                                   (202) 224-3121.

Read or download a PDF of the full Stop Slavery May newsletter.

Network’s 50th Anniversary Gala Shows How The Group Will March Into The Future

May 13, 2022
I’m old enough to remember the beginnings of Network. I was in graduate school, going on peace marches and wearing “Boycott grapes” buttons. I was not directly involved with Network, but many of our sisters were in this new social justice advocacy group, and, being a bleeding-heart liberal from birth, I was really proud of them. And at the April 22 gala celebrating the group’s 50th anniversary in Washington, D.C., it was my honor to sit with four of the pioneers. I had come with one of them, my housemate, Ursuline Sr. Angela Fitzpatrick.

I hovered around the edges of Network for years, writing letters, signing petitions, and actually visiting the Network office when our U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking group went to Washington to lobby our congressional representatives. (Network let us leave our luggage in their offices while we went to the Capitol.)

I finally jumped into the deep end and went on the 2018 tax justice tour with the Nuns on the Bus in spite of the fact I knew nothing about taxes —if you get involved with Network, you learn fast! — the 2020 virtual tour, and lots of good webinars in between.

But I was bowled over by what I saw and felt and experienced April 21-23 at the big 50th anniversary celebration, which included training for advocates and the gala.

Picturing the Network sisters I had known over the years (many white and, at this stage, mostly gray-haired), I was blown away by the explosion of diversity and youthful energy at the meeting. Oh, yes, there were a few of us old-timers, but there were young sisters and men and women of all ages and ethnicities/nationalities: associates, young staffers, college students, activists of all sorts, and, of course, our young sister-columnists for Global Sisters Report. One of my favorites was a young adult from India with a pink pageboy mop of hair.

I met old friends from past days in academia, from United Nations nongovernmental organizations, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and from religious leadership days.

Read the full story by Michele Morek on Global Sisters Report.

Pope Says ‘Slaughters and Atrocities’ Committed Daily in Ukraine

March 27, 2022

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis, continuing his implicit criticism of Russia, called the conflict in Ukraine an unjustified “senseless massacre” and urged leaders to stop “this repugnant war”.

“The violent aggression against Ukraine is unfortunately not slowing down,” he told about 30,000 people in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly Sunday address and blessing.

“It is a senseless massacre where every day slaughters and atrocities are being repeated,” Francis said in his latest strong condemnation of the war, which has so far avoided mentioning Russia by name.

“There is no justification for this,” he added.

Moscow says the action it launched on Feb. 24 is a “special military operation” designed not to occupy territory but to demilitarise its neighbour and purge it what it sees as dangerous nationalists. Francis has already rejected that terminology.

“I beg all the players in the international community to truly commit themselves to stopping this repugnant war,” the pope said, drawing loud cheers and applause from the crowd.
Read the full story by Philip Pullella on U.S.News & World Report.

Ukraine: Increasing Concerns Over Human Trafficking

March 24, 2022

No sooner had the first missiles been fired over the skies in Ukraine and thousands of people began to flee, than there was evidence that criminal gangs linked to human trafficking were on the move along border routes.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM ) around 1.5 million children, who are especially vulnerable to human trafficking, have fled Ukraine.

In a statement, the agency said: “Instances of sexual violence have already been reported and among the individuals promising onward transportation or services, there have been indications of potential exploitation.”

Aid agencies like Caritas Ukraine are supporting women and children crossing the border into neighbouring countries like Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary, to try to prevent human trafficking.

“Right now, there is a very high risk that people might become a human slave,” said Vladyslav Shelokov, Caritas Ukraine’s Resource Mobilisation Director.

Risks to refugees

Sr Imelda Poole, IBVM, is President of RENATE, a network of women religious combatting human trafficking, and is based in Albania. Speaking to Vatican Radio, she said there have been accounts of transnational criminal gangs working in vans along these routes.

“Women and children are really vulnerable, and also we do know from our sisters and colleagues working in Ukraine itself that sadly even in the basements where refugees are trying to keep safe there seemed to be some risks there too, and there have been some known rapes of women in the basements.”

Read the full article by Lydia O’Kane on Vatican News.

Join Catholic Sisters In Praying And Working To End Human Trafficking

January 26, 2022

The fight against human trafficking continues, 15 years after the United States designated today (Jan. 11) as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in 2007, and January as National Human Trafficking Prevention Month in 2010.

Catholic sisters around the world are deeply committed to ending the scourge of modern-day slavery. Through regional organizations, such as the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking and Rome-based Talitha Kum, initiated by the International Union of Superiors General as a “network of networks” active in five continents coordinating efforts of congregations in 60 or more networks, sisters work to raise awareness, aid and rehabilitate victims, and lobby for stricter laws and enforcement.

Global Sisters Report reflects these efforts in our coverage of sisters’ ministries and work related to human trafficking and through columns by sisters. We also take opportunities to help raise awareness through other venues. Our GSR in the Classroom curriculum, for instance, offers six lessons about human trafficking. GSR correspondent Soli Salgado, who has reported extensively about human trafficking, produced a special video presentation for the annual California Ministry Conference Hope, Heal, Renew, sponsored by eight dioceses and archdioceses from California, Nevada and Hawaii. The 2021 conference was a virtual gathering held Nov. 4-6.

The hourlong segment, entitled, “Migrating Toward Exploitation: Why Migrants Are Susceptible to Human Trafficking, and How Sisters Are Helping,” featured an explanatory introduction, plus interviews with Sr. Sally Duffy, a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati who is involved with migration and trafficking issues, and Jennifer Reyes Lay, executive director of U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking.

Other resources are available to help observe the day and month, according to Sr. Ann Scholz, a School Sister of Notre Dame and the associate director for social mission for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, including a toolkit with events, prayers and other information. She also recommended the  anti-trafficking page of the Justice for Immigrants website, and a prayer to end human trafficking posted on the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

There are also other official days to commemorate trafficking victims and efforts to raise awareness and stop human trafficking. Feb. 8 is the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, who was born in Sudan and sold into slavery and taken to Italy where she eventually joined the Canossian Sisters. Feb. 8 is a World Day of Prayer, Reflection, and Action against Human Trafficking, designated by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Union of Superiors General.

The theme for this year’s day of prayer is “The Power of Care — Women, Economics, Human Trafficking.” The International Day of Prayer website has more information and updates, including background, social media banners and posters and an invitation to join the prayer campaign. Networks of religious congregations from around the world will join together for a global prayer marathon. More information will become available.

In addition, the United Nations observes the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30. Talitha Kum, along with UISG, last year launched a special campaign, “Care Against Trafficking,” on July 22 in anticipation of this day. “We ask our networks and partners to stand together and amplify our efforts to transform the economy of trafficking into an economy of care that empowers everyone, and especially women, to foster safe and thriving communities,” the organization said, according to the Catholic News Service article about the launch. “Today, we call on all people of goodwill to come together and tackle the systemic causes of human trafficking … [and] … we call on governments to commit to long-term support for survivors, including quality education, work permits, access to justice and compensation, and medical and psychosocial assistance.

Read the full story by Gail DeGeorge on Global Sisters Report.

Pope Renews Calls For End To Human Trafficking

August 31, 2021

Pope Francis joined religious and world leaders in calling for an end to human trafficking on 30 July, the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

He tweeted: “I invite everyone to work together with the victims to transform the economy of trafficking into an economy of care.”

Between 20 and 40 million people are estimated to be trapped in modern slavery today, an illegal billion-dollar business where traffickers exploit vulnerable people for labour, prostitution, and trade in organs.

Talitha Kum, the global Anti-Trafficking Network of Consecrated Life Against Trafficking in Persons, launched a campaign entitled #CareAgainstTrafficking last week.

Its international coordinator, Sr Gabriella Bottani, urged people of goodwill “to come together and tackle the systemic causes of human trafficking, to transform the economy of trafficking into an economy of care”. She asked governments “to commit to long-term support for survivors”, including access to education, jobs, justice and healthcare.

Read the full story by Ellen Teague on The Tablet.

Holy See: Combat Trafficking In Persons Through Culture Of Respect, Dignity

July 16, 2021

The 21st Conference of the Alliance against Trafficking in Persons, organized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), took place from 14 – 16 June. It was conducted primarily online, with limited in-person participation for delegations from Vienna due to Covid-19 pandemic-related restrictions.

The virtual meeting put a spotlight on addressing the factors that increase the demand that fuels trafficking for the purposes of labour and sexual exploitation. It also explored the fundamental causes of trafficking, its effects on society, and possible means of putting an end to it.

The permanent representative of the Holy See to the OSCE, Monsignor Janusz Urbańczyk, spoke at four panels during the conference.

Tackling the demand

On Monday, Msgr. Urbańczyk analyzed demand as the fundamental, deep-rooted cause of trafficking, identifying two factors that further contribute to demand: poverty and an economic system concerned only about maximizing profit to serve the greed of a few rather than all of humanity.

He went on to applaud global efforts to combat the scourge of trafficking in persons, which have led around 96 percent of States to adopt legislation against trafficking; and have established specific training for the police, initiated awareness-raising campaigns, and worked in collaboration with NGOs. However, he lamented the continuous increase in trafficking, particularly during the current pandemic.

He stressed that “an economy without human trafficking is an economy with market rules that promote justice and not exclusive special interests.”

 

Read the full story by Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ on Vatican News

Making The Fight Against Trafficking A Priority For 25 Years

June 24, 2021

Soon after his election in 2013, Pope Francis held his first workshop on human trafficking, and I went to the Vatican to take part in it. Before I left Paris, I asked the “survivors” living in our shelter what message I should give to the Holy Father on their behalf.

They didn’t give me an envelope with a written message, but a mosaic depicting an empty boat in front of a lighthouse. It represented the island of Lampedusa, one of the primary points of European entry for many migrants. It weighed heavily in my bag!

On the first day of the workshop, we had the joy of meeting Francis. Gathering all my courage, I presented the mosaic to him and explained who had made it.

I took photos of the encounter back to the shelter to share with the residents. After that, the young woman who had made the mosaic was baptized and had her son baptized.

I am a sister in the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd. The organization of our congregation into provinces had kept us more focused on the national level. But as part of a “European Circle of Sisters in Apostolic Situations,” we had been meeting regularly to see how we could work together on the European level.

During one of these meetings, maybe in 1994, we read a newspaper article that said 500,000 women from Eastern Europe were victims of trafficking in Western Europe. As Good Shepherd Sisters, dedicated to the service of vulnerable women, we could not ignore that information!

We reported to the council of our congregation that we wanted to make trafficking the topic of our next meetings, but it had not been among the priorities of the previous General Chapter. Not discouraged, we continued insisting — and the next General Chapter made the fight against trafficking its first priority!

One of the sisters of the province had been called to be part of a European group that was being formed — under the aegis of the Union of International Superiors General (UISG) and under the leadership of Consolata Sr. Eugenia Bonetti. But soon, that Good Shepherd sister was elected provincial, and asked me to replace her for this mission.

Read the full story by Marie-Hélène Halligon on Global Sisters Report.

 

Sisters Fight Nigeria Trafficking With Networking, Advocacy And Collaboration

June 17, 2021

Nigeria has one of the highest rates of human trafficking in sub-Saharan Africa. But a very organized and active network of Catholic sisters is determined to change that by providing help to survivors and conducting education campaigns to prevent others from being victimized.

“Because trafficking of persons is on the increase despite efforts to end it, it has become one of the main projects of our ministry,” said Sr. Gloria Ozuluoke of the Religious Sisters of Charity. The congregation has a corporate stance to abolish human trafficking, she added. “It is part of our ministry — not just on special days set aside to campaign against human trafficking, which we marked with prayers and training for women and youth. Other days, we also train people and do advocacy on human trafficking. It’s a way of bringing to an end the social ills of human trafficking.”

Her congregation, which has its regional house in Lagos and has 45 members in the country, and others are now preparing programs to mark the United Nations’ World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30. The Religious Sisters of Charity and others throughout Nigeria also held special prayer services and workshops on Feb. 8, the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking, as did congregations around the world.

Yet education and rescue efforts by her congregation and others transcend particular days and are constant, as she noted in an interview with Global Sisters Report. That focus is part of a massive campaign through July among women religious congregations in Nigeria, and in collaboration with nonprofits and government agencies focused on anti-trafficking, Ozuluoke said. For instance, the sisters work with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, or NAPTIP, and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, or NDLEA, in combating trafficking and rehabilitating those affected by drug or substance abuse.

Read the full story by Patrick Egwu on Global Sisters Report.