The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus hold a Corporate Stance against Human Trafficking, which states, “the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus stand in solidarity with the victims of human trafficking. We condemn the use of violence, abduction, fraud, deception, coercion, or debt bondage to transport women and children from their homes for prostitutions, sexual exploitation, forced labor and/or real or virtual slavery.” In the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “It is a sin against the dignity of persons and their fundamental rights that would reduce them by violence to their productive value or to a source of profit.” [Read more…]
As human trafficking continues to be a supremely important issue during Pope Francis’ pontificate, with an estimated 20 million victims worldwide, St. Josephine Bakhita, enslaved during her own childhood, undergoing immense suffering throughout her adolescence before discovering the faith in her early 20s. She was baptized, and after being freed entered the Canossian Sisters in Italy.
February 8th, St. Josephine’s feast day, marks the fourth international day of prayer and reflection against human trafficking.
Born in 1869 in a small village in the Darfur region of Sudan, Bakhita was kidnapped by slave traders at the age of seven. So terrified that she could not even remember her own name, her kidnappers gave her the name, “Bakhita,” which means “fortunate” in Arabic.
This was the last time she saw her natural family, being sold and resold into slavery five different times.
Eventually, she was purchased by the Italian consul Calisto Legnani, who later gave her to a friend of the family, Augusto Michieli, who brought her to Italy as a nanny for his daughter. In the Italian families it was the first time she was not mistreated.
After being freed, and remaining with the Canossian Sisters in Italy, she dedicated her life to assisting her community and teaching others to love God. She died on February 8, 1947. She was beatified in 1992 and canonized in 2000 by St. Pope John Paul II.
~ by Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency
The Missionary Sisters of the Stella Maris Province have a Corporate Stance against human trafficking. The Sisters stand in solidarity with the victims of human trafficking within the territories of the province and around the globe.
“Just as we welcome the immigrant in our midst, we condemn the use of violence, abduction, fraud, deception, coercion, or debt bondage to transport women and children from their homes for prostitution, sexual exploitation, forced labor and/or real or virtual slavery.”
To learn more about the Corporate Stances: http://www.mothercabrini.org/who-we-are/corporate-stances/stop-human-trafficking/
Over the next few weeks, as we continue to Share the Journeywith our migrant and refugee brothers and sisters, the Vatican office on Migrants and Refugees, consulting with various Bishops’ Conferences and Catholic NGOs, has prepared Twenty Action Pointson migrants and refugees. The Twenty Points are grounded on migrants’ and refugees’ needs identified at the grassroots level and on the Church’s best practices. The Points have been approved by the Holy Father. This week, we will introduce the first three of theTwenty Points.
Continuing to Share the Journey
Global migration is a major challenge for much of today’s world and a priority for the Catholic Church. In words and deeds, Pope Francis repeatedly shows his deep compassion for all who are displaced. Witness his encounters with migrants and refugees on the Islands of Lampedusa and Lesbos. Witness his call for their full embrace: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate migrants, refugees and victims of human trafficking.
In addition, the Holy Father is guiding the Church to assist the world community in systematically improving its responses to the displaced. The international political community has launched a multilateral process of consultation and negotiations with the goal of adopting two Global Compacts by the end of 2018, one on international migrants and the other on refugees. In doing so, Twenty Action Points have been formulated. The various Bishops’ Conferences are urged to promote the Points in their parishes and Church organizations with the hope of fostering more effective solidarity with migrants and refugees.
Though grounded in the Church’s experience and reflection, the Twenty Points are offered as valuable considerations to all people of good will who might be willing to implement them and advocate their inclusion in their country’s negotiations. Leaders and members of all faiths, and organizations of civil society, are welcome to join in this effort.
Welcoming: Increasing Safe and Legal Routes for Migrants and Refugees
The decision to emigrate should be made freely and voluntarily. Migration should be an orderly process which respects the laws of each country involved. To this end, the following points are to be considered:
- The collective or arbitrary expulsion of migrants and refugees should be avoided. The principles of non-refoulement should always be respected: migrants and refugees must never be returned to a country which has been deemed unsafe. The application of this principle should be based on the level of safety effectively afforded to each individual, rather than on a summary evaluation of a country’s general state of security. The routine application of a list of “safe countries” often fails to consider the real security needs of particular refugees; they must be treated on an individual basis.
- Legal routes for safe and voluntary migration or relocation should be multiplied. This can be achieved by granting more humanitarian visas, visas for students and apprentices, family reunification visas (including siblings, grandparents and grandchildren), and temporary visas for people feeling conflict in neighboring countries; by creating humanitarian corridors for the most vulnerable; and by launching private and community sponsorship programs, programs for relocating refugees in communities rather than concentrating them in holding facilities
3. The value of each person’s safety – rooted in a profound respect the the inalienable rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees – should be correctly balanced with national security concerns. This can be achieved through appropriate training for border agents; by ensuring that migrants, asylum seekers and refugees have access to basic services, including legal services; by ensuring protection for anyone fleeing war and violence; and by seeking alternative solutions to detention for those who entere a coutnry without authorization.
Protecting: Defending the Rights and Dignity of Migrants and Refugees
The Church has repeatedly underlined the need for an integral approach to the issue of migration, in profound respect for each person’s dignity and rights and in consideration of the multiple dimensions of each individual. The right to life is the most fundamental of all rights, and cannot depend on a person’s legal status. To this end, the following points are suggested:
4. Emigrants must be protected by their countries of origin, authorities in these countries should offer reliable information before departure; should ensure that all channels of emigration are legalized and certified should create a government department for the diaspora; and should offer consular assistance and protection abroad.
- Immigrants must be protected by their countries of arrival, in order to prevent exploitation, forced labor and human trafficking. This can be achieved by prohibiting employers from withholding employees’ documents; by ensuring access to justice for all migrants, independently of their legal status and without negative repercussions on their right to remain; by ensuring that all immigrants can open a person bank account; by establishing a minimum wage applicable to all workers; and by ensuring that wages are paid at least once a month.
- Migrants, asylum seekers and refugees must be empowered to leverage their skills and competencies in order to improve their own wellbeing and the prosperity of their communities. This can be achieved by guaranteeing in-country freedom of movement and permission to return after work abroad; by providing ample access to the means of communications; by involving local communities in the integration of asylum seekers; and by developing programs of professional and social reintegration for anyone who chooses to return to their home country.
7. The vulnerability of unaccompanied minor and minors separated from their families must be tackled in accordance with the international Convention on the Rights of the Child. This can be achieved by seeking alternative solutions to detention for legally underage migrants who enter a country without authorization; by offering temporary custody or foster homes for unaccompanied or separated minor; and by setting up centers for the identification and processing of minors, adults and families.
- All underage migrants must be protected in accordance with the international Convention on the Rights of the Child. This can be achieved through the compulsory registration of all births and by ensuring that underage migrants do not become irregular when they reach adulthood and that they can continue their education.
- Access to education should be assured to all underage migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, so that they have access to primary and secondary schooling at the same standard as citizens and independently of their legal status.
- Access to welfare should be assured to all migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, respoting their right to health and basic healthcare independently of legal status, and ensuring access to national pension schemes and the transferability of benefits in case of moving to another country,
- Migrants should never become a-national or stateless, in accordance to the right to nationality stated by international conventions, and citizen ship should be recognized at birth.
- Protecting: Defending the Rights and Dignity of Migrants and RefugeesThe Church has repeatedly emphasized the need to promote integral human development for migrants, asylum seekers and refugees alongside local residents. Countries should include migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in their plan for national development. To this end, the following points are to be considered:
- The competencies of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees should be valued and developed in countries of arrival by guaranteeing equal access to higher education, specialization courses, apprenticeships and internships, and by validating qualifications obtained elsewhere.
- the social and professional inclusion of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees within local communities should be supported by recognizing their freedom of movement and their right to choose where to live; by making information available in their languages of origin; by offering language classes and course on local customs and culture; and by granting asylum seekers and refugees the right to work.
- The integrity and well-being of the family should always be protected and promoted, independently of legal status. This can be achieved by embracing broader family reunification (grandparents, grandchildren and siblings) independently of financial requirements; by allowing reunified family members to work; by undertaking the search for lost family members; by combating the exploitation of minors; and by ensuring, that, if employed, their work does not adversely affect their health or their right to education.
- 15. Migrants, asylum seekers and refugees with special needs are to be treated just like citizens with the same conditions, guaranteeing access to disability benefits independently of legal status, and enrolling unaccompanied or separated minors with disabilities in special education programs.
- The funds for international development and humanitarian support, sent to countries which received a significant influx of refugees and migrants fleeing from armed conflict, should be increased, ensure that the needs of both newcomer and resident populations can be met. This can be achieved by funding the establishment and development of institutions for medical, educational and social care in countries of arrival, and by extending financial help and assistance programs to local families in situations of vulnerability.
- The right to religious freedom – terms of both belief and practice – should be assured to all migrants, asylum seekers and refugees independently of legal status.
Integrating: Greater Participation of Migrants and Refugees to Enrich Local Community
The arrival of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees represents an opportunity for growth as much for local communities as for the newcomers. The encounter of different cultures is a source of mutual enrichment, since inclusion and participation contribute to the development of societies. To this end the following points are to be implemented:
18. Integration as a two-directional process which acknowledges and values the riches of both cultures, should be promoted. This can be achieved by recognizing the citizenship at birth; by rapidly extending nationality to all refugees, independently of financial requirements or linguistic knowledge (at least for over -50s); by promoting family reunification; and by declaring a one-off period of amnesty and legalization for migrants who have lived in a country for a considerable amount of time.
19. A positive narrative os solidarity towards migrants, asylum seekers and refugees should be promoted. This can be achieved by funding intercultural exchange projects; by supporting integration programs in local communities; by documenting and disseminating good practices in integration; and by ensuring that public announcements are translated into the languages spoken by larger numbers of igtants, asylum seekers and refugees.
20. Those who are forced to flee humanitarian crises and are subsequently evacuated or enrolled in assisted repatriation programs must be ensured appropriate conditions for reintegration in their countries of origin. This can be achieved by increasing the funds assigned to temporary assistance for those affected by humanitarian crises and by developing infrastructure in countries of return, by validating educational and professional qualifications obtained abroad, and by encouraging the rapid reintegration of workers in their countries of origin.
~ Migrants and Refugees Section, Integral Human Development, Vatican City
In a world where violence forces thousands of families to flee for their lives each day, the time is now to show that the global public stands with refugees.
We are in the midst of the WORLD’S WORST refugee crisis in history. A crisis that brings with it overwhelming numbers, huge challenges for countries and communities affected, untold misery — and hope.
More than 65 million people are now counted as forcibly displaced by the United Nations. That’s like the entire population of the UK or France, or about as many as everyone in New York State, Texas and Florida — all forced from their homes. Just over one-third are refugees, people forced to flee their countries because of persecution, war, or violence. More than half of refugees are under 18 and more people are displaced every day – you could fill about 630 school buses with people forced from their homes every day! War is a major factor. More than half of refugees come from three war-torn countries — Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia, the UN says, while others flee famine or prosecution. Starvation is stalking millions in Africa in 2017. And in Myanmar, there are about 1 million Rohingyas — a persecuted ethnic and religious minority, who say they are being increasingly targeted and attacked.
Some take refuge in the first safe place they find. Others journey on, risking all, in the hopes of finding a better new life.
Right now, as you read this, traffickers are selling migrant men, women and children in make shift ‘slave markets’ all over the world. I’ve read that they are placed under a sign that reads “for sale”. First hand witnesses report them being sold for between $200 and $500 each.
Many times they are then held for ransom in mass prisons and detention centers often run by militias; or used as forced labor and for sexual exploitation. Survivors have spoken of their slave masters extracting ransoms from relatives, including beating and torturing their captives while on the phone to their families so they would hear them scream while being tortured. “People were tied up like goats, beaten with broom handles and pipes every day, to get money,” reported by the International Office on Migration.
What YOU Can Do
That asylum seekers may find hope and restoration from the despair and persecution from which they have fled; that Christians can celebrate unity in Christ while celebrating our differences in cultures and nationalities; that unaccompanied refugee children may be protected from all harm and reunited with loving families; for migrant workers, that they may work in safe and just conditions, and that we who benefit from their labor may be truly grateful for what they provide; for an end to the violence and poverty that displace so many of our sisters and brothers from their homes and homelands; for our political leaders, that they may implement policies that allow for safe migration and just migrant working conditions, and put an end to the detention of asylum seekers, while protecting our national safety.
- If you’ve got five minutes, call your representatives.
Currently, the United States Congress has proposed budget cuts that would reduce refugee assistance to the region by 20 percent and humanitarian relief by 15 percent. It’s critical to call your legislator – and this is especially true if your representative is against helping refugees and if she or he is already in support of refugees.
If she or he doesn’t support refugees, your call could help sway their opinion. And if she or he does support refugees, those calls bolster stances!
It’s really powerful for a senator or representative to be able to say, ‘I got 10,000 calls from constituents who are saying they want us to welcome refugees in this country.’
- If you’ve got a few hours a week, volunteer.
There are refugees already all around the United States trying to settle in to this country. Three million refugees have been resettled in America since the Refugee Act of 1980 was signed, according to Pew Research. About 85,000 people were admitted during the last fiscal year under President Barack Obama.
Resettlement agencies are always looking for volunteers. This ranges from everything from language training to handling logistics to just being some company. Find a local agency and see if there’s anything you can do.
If you need help finding an agency near you, try checking here for the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
- If you’ve got no time but some extra cash, donate.
DONATE TO CABRINI IMMIGRANT SERVICE CENTERS WHO ARE WORKING WITH IMMIGRANTS EVERY DAY! http://www.cis-nyc.org
- If you’ve got friends and neighbors, change their opinions.
All you have to do is talk to people you know and explain to them why you think refugees are people who deserve a chance at a peaceful life.
When people hear that attitude from people they’re familiar with, that’s really powerful. Those conversations can change minds better than news stories and essays.
This is vital if you live in a community where refugees are being settled. You can help to make sure they are fully welcome. Meanwhile, it can lead to an even bigger change. These conversations can be difficult, and you may not be able to change everybody’s minds. Be respectful in these talks — and knowing the stats and information always helps.
But that doesn’t mean you should stop speaking up and spreading awareness. Change often happens slowly. Have patience with it.
- If you’ve got no time, no money, but a lot of passion, then pay attention to the news.
Know what’s going on! It was people’s awareness of the news that led to the inspiring protests at airports around the country after Trump signed his (now-blocked) executive order against refugees. Awareness leads to mobilization, which can lead to change.
- 7. Sign the Pledge:The U.N. Refugee Agency is circulating a#WithRefugees petition, which asks that governments around the world ensure that every refugee child can get an education, that every refugee family has a place to live, and that every refugee can work or train for new skills. The petition will be delivered to the U.N. headquarters in New York in time for the U.N. General Assembly on September 19.
For nearly a half century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, which is an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking. The theme for National Migration Week 2017 draws attention to Pope Francis’ call to create a culture of encounter, and in doing so to look beyond our own needs and wants to those of others around us. In the homily given at his first Pentecost as pope, he emphasized the importance of encounter in the Christian faith: “For me this word is very important. Encounter with others. Why? Because faith is an encounter with Jesus, and we must do what Jesus does: encounter others.”
With respect to migrants, too often in our contemporary culture we fail to encounter them as persons, and instead look at them as others. We do not take the time to engage migrants in a meaningful way, but remain aloof to their presence and suspicious of their intentions.
During this National Migration Week, let us all take the opportunity to engage migrants as children of God who are worthy of our attention and support.
~ from the USCCB website
To learn more and for further resources, please visit: http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/national-migration-week
Informed by his Franciscan Community of an important Lenten advocacy campaign for slave-free seafood, Fr. Edwin Robinson, OFM, Director of Pastoral Care at Cabrini of Westchester, was compelled to raise awareness. He shared the Lenten initiative led by the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking (CCOAHT) with Patricia Krasnausky, President and CEO, and, together, they brought the campaign to the Cabrini community.
In honor of the Year of Mercy, Ms. Krasnausky ordered and distributed over 500 hundred pre-paid postcards addressed to two of the largest distributors of seafood: Costco and Starkist. The message on the postcards read: “Catholics want slave-free seafood this year, and will be vigilant about this as we observe Lent. We, therefore, kindly urge you to do all in your power to ensure that your supply chains are free of the taint of forced labor.”
Ms. Krasnausky had the postcards signed by many employees of Cabrini of Westchester as well as those in attendance of the Cabrini Day of Prayer, Restoration and Renewal held at Cabrini College. Many were stunned to learn that the United States imports 80-90% of its seafood, and tens of thousands of people are exploited at every link in the seafood harvesting and production chain.
As a result of Cabrini’s participation, we received the following feedback from CCOAHT. “Over 15,000 cards were mailed, which exceeded the goals of the campaign. As a result, the National Fisheries Institute contacted the US Bishops Conference and a meeting is scheduled to occur in May. This contact means that the mail campaign had an effect. The initial meeting is the first step in the effort re halting the human trafficking situation in shrimp and fish farming.”
Therefore, all the individuals who signed and mailed in postcards made a significant contribution to the campaign. Thank you, and God bless one and all!
In recent years, Americans have grown increasingly aware of human trafficking – a modern day form of slavery. The victims of this crime suffer greatly – victims ranging from children to young teens and mature individuals, are sold into prostitution, hard labor, or both. Feeling hopeless, they can lose their sense of optimism and self worth.
Anti-human trafficking organizations and support networks have been created in response to the spread of human trafficking. Through the support these organizations provide many victims of this heinous crime have found solace and a fresh outlook on life. In turn, trafficking survivors have the opportunity to share their stories and join in the effort to save others.
One such advocacy organization is Dawn’s Place, a shelter in our area, – a sanctuary, really, – for women who have fallen victim to human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Their staff members provide these women with a home-like environment where they are accompanied in their transition back into society.
The Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition (CAAC), with its Cabrini Closet initiative, has worked to provide stylish, contemporary clothing for victims of human trafficking. Concerned and generous individuals have donated new and gently used clothing, household items and gift cards to CAAC to enable the Coalition to assist organizations in helping these victims to recover. Many victims of human trafficking, at the time they are rescued, have nothing but the clothes on their backs.
To enhance their ability to assist these shelters and sanctuaries, the Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition recently hosted a sale at Cabrini College, where Coalition members and volunteers sold donated designer purses, belts, shoes, scarves, and jewelry to help fund CAAC’s efforts.
The CAAC chairperson and sale coordinator, Karol Brewer, with the help of her coalition members Cassie Woestman and Ruby Remley, said that the funds raised were beyond their expectations. They were grateful that so many people, who had no particular affiliation to the Coalition or to the College, attended the sale. While they were on campus, visitors asked members enjoyed being able to educate others on the issue, as well as their work, all while raising money to continue their efforts.
Since the Cabrini Closet’s resources are often called upon in times of emergencies, Karol says it is “a good feeling to [be able to] fulfill those needs right away.” CAAC will donate a a portion of the sale’s proceeds to the women’s shelter Dawn’s Place.
When we hear the words human trafficking we think of the horrors foreign women and children go through in their countries. From rape, to torture, to prostitution, and even death. But what not many people are aware of is that human trafficking is a practice common not just in poorer countries but in wealthy countries like the U.S. Human trafficking is not just the dark and dingy picture portrayed in films. American children and young adults being forced into prostitution and into working for someone else’s profit is human trafficking. The King of Prussia Mall, located in suburban Philadelphia, and many other malls, and concerts and sporting events in the U.S. are playgrounds for traffickers. They target runaways and vulnerable young people.
Cabrini freshman, Christian Vazquez, had a basic understanding of human trafficking from learning about it at his high school, but he admits that he was not aware of how close to home this occurrence is. Because of the assumed “…tough laws…” that the U.S. has, many Americans like Christian have no idea that human trafficking is an international occurrence and not just another misfortune third world citizens have to endure.
Thankfully, the Cabrinian community continues spreading awareness on social justice issues and providing for those in need. The Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition is an MSC ministry that promulgates the MSC’s two corporate stances: to SUPPORT the rights and dignity of all immigrants and STOP human trafficking once and for all.
“The coalition was formed to do whatever we [could] to stop human trafficking,” current chairman, Karol Brewer explains. Karol began her work with the Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition many years ago, and because of her dedication to helping the most vulnerable, the MSCs asked her to chair this initiative.
Karol is also the founder of The Cabrini Closet, “a trendy Goodwill” — as I call it — which specializes in providing human trafficking victims with new and contemporary attire to better accommodate them in their transition into society once again. She began this work after forming a friendship with an FBI agent who worked solely with trafficking victims and hearing the stories of what these people go through. “We have to do something — we can do something!” Karol recalled telling herself. So she took matters into her own hands and thought: “Why not do this on our own?” And so, The Closet was created!
To further spread the word on The Closet and promote awareness as well as support for Human Trafficking and its victims, the Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition will be hosting a sale to raise funds for the cause. The sale will take place on Wednesday, March 16th in the College’s Grace Hall Atrium from 10:00 am-3:00 pm. (See flyer on page 6.) They will be selling designer purses, shoes, belts, and many more items, which were donated to The Closet by generous people from all over the country. These items will be sold at reasonable prices.
Karol has reached out to top designers to ask them to donate at least one of their bags. She has sent out about 15 requests to designers ranging from Michael Kors to Ralph Lauren and even Coach. She is still waiting for replies but is hoping at least one agrees. Being as though this is the first fundraiser the coalition has hosted, she expressed her nervousness for the turnout of the sale. But she was enthused about the Cabrini community and their support of the cause. Though she admits that it is a lot of work, Karol finds it all to be exceptionally “gratifying…[and] wonderful that [we] get to do this.”
All proceeds will go directly towards the Coalition to provide funds and gift cards for trafficking victims, and to Dawn’s Place, a shelter in Southeastern Pennsylvania for women who are victims of human trafficking and sexual abuse.
Monday, February 8
End injustice with prayer and action
A Catholic sister and former slave, Saint Josephine Bakhita is for many a companion in the fight against human trafficking. Her feast day coincides with the U.S. Bishops’ Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of Human Trafficking. In 2013 when this day was inaugurated, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo called upon the church to “lift our voices loudly in prayer, hope, and love for trafficking victims and survivors” and emphasized awareness and action on their behalf.