Artist hopes New Sculpture Can Spotlight Sisters’ Work Fighting Human Trafficking
~ by Christopher White, Global Sisters Report
Pope Francis has said that human trafficking is a modern form of human slavery, and he has been critical of governments, business leaders, and those in civil society who turn a blind eye to it.
Now, Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz is hoping his new sculpture will help put a spotlight on an issue he believes too many individuals and governments would prefer to look away from. And on Sunday, February 6, the pope offered his blessing – both to the sculpture and to the religious sisters on the front lines leading the fight against human trafficking.
The design for the sculpture is inspired, in part, by the work of the 19th- century Canossian religious sister, now Saint Josephine Bakhita, who hailed from the Darfur region of Sudan and was kidnapped by traffickers at age 9. Upon becoming free, she entered religious life and committed herself to caring for the poor and destitute. She is the patron saint of human trafficking victims and survivors.
The bronze statue design – which will eventually have permanent homes in both Rome and the United States – depicts Bakhita opening up the gates of the underworld and allowing those enslaved by trafficking to be set free. More than 50 individuals represent a range of trafficking victims – including a child bride, young beggars, an individual trafficking for their organs, both men and women enslaved in prostitution.
Schmalz told Global Sisters Report he hopes the sculpture, titled, “Let the Oppressed Go Free,” will become a “weapon of awareness.”
“Thank you for your courage,” the pope said to the religious sisters present with a 10-foot bronze model of the statue in St. Peter’s Square during his remarks after the Sunday Angelus.
Feast Day of St. Josephine Bakhita – International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking
The Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita on the 8th of February each year, her life was a journey from slavery to freedom and faith. The patron saint of Sudan, her life story inspires hope in the face of modern day indifference and exploitation.
As Pope Francis states: “She is charged with showing to all the path to conversion, which enables us to change the way we see our neighbors, to recognize in every other person a brother or sister in our human family and to acknowledge his or her intrinsic dignity in truth and freedom. This saint, who lived at the turn of the twentieth century, is even today an exemplary witness of hope for the many victims of slavery; she can support the efforts of all those committed to fighting against this ‘open wound on the body of contemporary society.’” Pope Francis on the Celebration of the World Day of Peace 2015
Saint Josephine Margaret Bakhita was born around 1869 in the Darfur region of Sudan. She was a member of the Daju people and her uncle was a tribal chief. Due to her family lineage, she grew up happy and relatively prosperous, saying that as a child, she did not know suffering.
Historians believe that sometime in February 1877, Josephine was kidnapped by Arab slave traders. Although she was just a child she was forced to walk barefoot over 600 miles to a slave market. She was bought and sold at least twice during the grueling journey.
For the next 12 years she would be bought and sold and given away over a dozen times. She spent so much time in captivity that she forgot her original name.
As a slave, her treatment was cruel with several owners. She was sold to the Italian Vice Consul, Callisto Legani. He was kind to her. When it was time for him to return to Italy, she begged to be taken with him and he agreed.
After a long journey back to Italy, Legani gave her away to another family as a gift and she served them as a nanny. This new family had dealings in Sudan and when her mistress decided to travel to Sudan without Josephine, she place her in the custody of the Canossian Sisters in Venice. While with the Sisters she came to know about God.
When the mistress returned from Sudan, Josephine refused to leave the Sisters. This caused the Superior of the Institute for baptismal candidates among the sisters to complain to Italian authorities on Josephine’s behalf.
The case went to court, and the court found that slavery had been outlawed in Sudan before Josephine was born, so she could not be lawfully made a slave. She was declared free.
For the first time in her life, Josephine was free and could choose her own path. She chose to remain with the Canossian Sisters.
She was baptized in 1890 and three years later became a novice with the Canossian Daughters of Charity and took her final vows in 1896. For the next 42 years, she worked as a cook and doorkeeper at the convent. She was known for her gentle voice and smile.
She died on February 8, 1947. She was canonized by Saint Pope John Paul II on October 1, 2000. She is the patron saint of Sudan.
To read the full account, please click here
The International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking
This Day of Prayer is held on February 8th each year. In addition to prayer, the day is a call to action:
“Our awareness must expand and extend to the very depths of this evil and its farthest reaches…from awareness to prayer…from prayer to solidarity…and from solidarity to concerted action, until slavery and trafficking are no more,” says Cardinal Peter Turkson.
In this sense another goal of the day is to encourage people to act and to take concrete steps to help eradicate slavery and trafficking. Indeed, an essential part of freedom is our ongoing effort to ensure it is woven into the fabric of our society.
To access resources for the International Day of Prayer, please click here
To access the Corporate Stance of the Missionary Sisters, please click here
Awareness and Advocacy re: Human Trafficking
Cabrini High School, New Orleans, took the week of January 10-14 to highlight National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. In solidarity with Mother Cabrini’s Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, each day began with prayers for an end to this sinful tragedy. Facts about human trafficking and how we can advocate and fight against it were highlighted daily. The week culminated in a dress-up day, where students raised funds for the anti-trafficking efforts of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart and the Cabrini Mission Foundation.
Join Catholic Sisters in Praying and Working to End Human Trafficking
~ by Gail DeGeorge, Global Sisters Report
The fight against human trafficking continues, 15 years after the United States designated January 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.
The Global Sisters Report (GRS) reflects these efforts in their coverage of sisters’ ministries and work related to human trafficking. They also take opportunities to help raise awareness through other venues. The 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 November. 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.
There are also other official days to commemorate trafficking victims and efforts to raise awareness and stop human trafficking. February 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. February 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.”
In addition, the United Nations observes the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30.
While much of the attention of anti-trafficking is on women and children who are trafficked and abused, there is also growing attention to the labor trafficking and workers who are exploited.
There can never be enough attention to the issue of human trafficking, or the efforts by Catholic sisters and others to help women, children and vulnerable adults avoid becoming victims of trafficking, or assisting those who are already caught in the trap. So, this day, this month, February 8th and every day take time to pray and add your efforts to the cause to stop human trafficking.
To read the complete article, please click here
The Missionary Sisters of the Guadalupe Province have a Corporate Stance on Human Trafficking.
To learn more please click here and here to download a PDF of the Corporate Stance brochure.
VOICES for the VOICELESS
On Monday, November 15, not even the cold, blustery weather could dampen the Cabrini spirit. Students from Cabrini University’s ECG 200, Voices for the Voiceless class, spoke during a walk throughout campus where a number of “stations” were designated that focused on different topics around human trafficking. Many sports teams’ members and their coaches attended, as well as, other students, staff and friends from the University. Many of these students will engage with human trafficking victims through their future careers and may be the first contact victims have. They will know the signs to recognize victims and know what to do about it. Our students have pledged to continue raising awareness and educate everyone they can to be part of ending human trafficking.
~Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition and ECG 200 Voice for Voiceless-Anti-Human Trafficking Class
The Feast Day of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini – November 13, 2021
The Feast Day of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
Patroness of Immigrants
November 13, 2021
Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, proclaimed a saint in 1946 and Patron Saint of Immigrants in 1950 is best known for her extraordinary apostolic activity in the United States and South America in the service of Italian emigrants to whom she was sent in 1889 by Pope Leo XIII. Her apostolic mysticism matured in the light of two great sources: the spirituality of the Sacred Heart and her missionary life – which force her to travel continuously, crossing the ocean over 24 times, traveling widely by train, carriage, on horseback, and even on foot, all with the sole purpose of bringing the consolation of God’s love to the most lonely, marginalized and desperate people.
In 1880, the Bishop of Lodi, Monsignor Domenico Gelmini exhorted her to fulfill her missionary dreams, saying to her, “I know you want to be a missionary. I do not know any missionary institutes. You shall found one.” Frances simply replied, “I’ll look for a House.” Thus she became the Foundress of the Institute of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, and from that moment on was called “Mother Cabrini”.
In this way her missionary adventure began, entirely oriented toward preparing for the missions of China that she had desired since childhood, but the rapid development of her institute and foundations, the fame of her abilities, and the impressive number of young women who asked to join her Institute attracted the attention of Monsignor Giovanni Battista Scalabrini. He invited her to devote herself to Italian immigrants who left of the Americas in search of fortune and who were living in desperate conditions, especially in North America.
Mother Cabrini waited for the illumination of the Holy Spirit before accepting, and, above all, she sought in herself the valid reasons that could have made her consider such a radical change to her missionary course. It took Pope Leo XIII, with whom she had established a deep filial relationship, to make her definitively decide to relinquished her long-cherished dream of missionary work in China.
Her adventure through the Americas and in Europe, underwent no periods of inactivity. The groundbreaking activity in favor of the Italian immigrants prompted her to establish schools and orphanages, educational centers, hospitals and dispensaries. All of these facilities were necessary because of the miserable condition of so many abandoned, uneducated children, sick immigrants who could barely make themselves understood in the public hospitals, families divided by the necessity of work, and entire neighborhoods, victims of organized crimes, so many people, marginalized by prejudice and poverty.
Her work also extended to mines, prisons, cotton plantations and railroad yards – all places where she and her sisters came to the aid of the Italians enslaved by the need to earn a meager living and often overwhelmed by the difficulties of existence.
She fought for them, for their dignity, and for the reconstitution of a cultural identity of which they were ashamed. But, above all, she was fighting so that they would not abandon the Catholic religion. She wanted religious education to be a source of comfort, human and Christian growth, strength to move forward in life, and help for the immigrant to integrate with dignity into the new culture without losing their own.
The Christian synthesis that Mother Cabrini achieved between the overwhelming apostolic activity and contemplation is the basis of her spirituality.
When understood in this way, Mother Cabrini takes on all the richness and depth of spirituality which continually adapts to the requirements of the missionary life, overcoming even valid personal concerns in favor of an active, preventive and curative repair of the difficulties weighing on humanity.
~ from Free Yourselves and Put on Wings, A Journey of Cabrinian Spirituality, by Sr. Maria Barbagallo, MSC
U.S. Sisters Push for COVID Vax as Healthcare Staff Face Burnout
U.S. Sisters Push for COVID Vax as Healthcare Staff Face Burnout
After 18 months of turmoil, stress and watching COVID-19 victims die, caregivers at Catholic health facilities are reaching their limits.
“With the delta variant and the number of people who have chosen not to get vaccinated, this fourth COVID surge is the worst they’ve seen,” saidBrian Reardon, Vice-President of Communications and Marketing at the Catholic Health Association, which includes more than 600 hospitals and 1,600 other health facilities in the United States. “The biggest impact is burnout in caregivers and staff. We’re hearing multiple reports that they just can’t take it anymore.”
The majority of CHA facilities were founded by or remained sponsored ministries of Catholic sister. Since the beginning of the pandemic, those sisters and other women religious have been working on the front lines, treating the sick and pushing vaccination efforts amid the delta variant’s takeover of the country.
“It’s just been 18 months of unrelenting stress,” Reardon said. But this surge is especially frustrating because it doesn’t have to be happening,” he added. “People are in the ICU on ventilators. There is a moral obligation for people to get vaccinated.”
Mercy Sr. Karen Scheer has seen that close up in her work as a physician with Holy Redeemer Health System in Philadelphia where she provides primary care to people who are homebound.
“Our primary purpose in life is to live Gospel values and care for one another,” she said. “Getting a vaccine can be an inconvenience, but it can be life-saving. Many people of color are suspicious and understandably so. In Philadelphia, the Black Doctors Consortium has done a lot to reach out to the communities of color and it’s working. It’s providers of color providing care, and that’s the greatest witness.”
Meanwhile, healthcare officials worry what the burnout of caregivers and staff will do to the industry.
“We’re hearing from our members about how concerned they are about not only current workforce issues, but what it’s going to mean long-term” if people leave the field because of stress and burnout, Reardon said.
There is concern because hospitals are full of COVID patients, other things go unchecked: chronic health problems as well as mental and substance abuse, which the social isolation of the pandemic exacerbated.
“There’s a confluence of crises out there, with COVID at the top,” Reardon said.
World Trafficking Day
Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit, or destination for victims. Traffickers the world over continue to target women and girls. The poor and the vulnerable are most at risk. The vast majority of detected victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation and 35 per cent of those trafficked for forced labor are female. Conflict further exacerbates vulnerabilities, with armed groups exploiting civilians and traffickers targeting forcibly displaced people.
COVID-19 has amplified trafficking dangers. Loss of jobs, growing poverty, school closures and a rise in online interactions are increasing vulnerabilities and opening up opportunities for organized crime groups.
The crisis has overwhelmed social and public services, impacted the work of law enforcement and criminal justice systems, and made it harder for victims to seek help.
And yet in these difficult times, we see the best of humanity: frontline heroes, men and women risking their lives and going above and beyond to provide essential support for human trafficking victims.
The United Nation’s announced this year’s theme for the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons highlights the importance of listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking. Survivors are key actors in the fight against human trafficking. They play a crucial role in establishing effective measures to prevent this crime, identifying and rescuing victims and supporting them on their road to rehabilitation.
Many victims of human trafficking have experienced ignorance or misunderstanding in their attempts to get help. They have had traumatic post-rescue experiences during identification interviews and legal proceedings. Some have faced revictimization and punishment for crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers. Others have been subjected to stigmatization or received inadequate support.
Learning from victims’ experiences and turning their suggestions into concrete actions will lead to a more victim-centered and effective approach in combating human trafficking.
UPDATE: Advocates: Ruling Against DACA Must Push Congress to Act
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Catholic immigration advocates are urging Congress and President Joe Biden to speed up legislation to protect immigrants after a federal judge ruled July 16 to end a program that prevents the deportation of thousands of immigrants brought into the U.S. illegally as children. These groups immediately took to social media to respond to the decision by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, who said the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, was illegal.
His ruling, which plaintiffs plan to appeal, bars the government from approving any new applications to the program but leaves it open for current participants. The decision means that “tens of thousands of people who applied but had their initial cases stuck in limbo due to crisis-level processing delays…will not receive life-altering protection from deportation or stability, security, opportunity,” tweeted Lisa Parisio, Director of Advocacy for Catholic Legal Immigration Network or CLINIC.
Hanen ruled in favor of Texas and eight other states that filed suit in 2018 against DACA on the ground that former President Obama, who created the program by executive order in 2012, did not have the authority to do so because he bypassed Congress. The states that joined Texas in the lawsuit – Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia – also said the program has been a financial strain.
DACA has enabled about 700,000 qualifying young people, described as Dreamers to work, go to college, get health insurance, a driver’s license and not face deportation.
Just last year, the Supreme Court ruled against efforts by the Trump administration to end the program, saying the actions taken to rescind it had been “arbitrary and capricious.” A federal judge at the end of last year ordered the Trump administration to fully restore DACA.
In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, the USCCB urged President Trump to “strongly reconsider terminating DACA” and they also urged U.S. senators to “ immediately pass legislation that provides a path to citizenship” for Dreamers, stressing that this kid of “permanent legislative protection” is long overdue.
Advocates had similar pleas right after Hanen’s ruling.
“Texas does not have the right to dictate federal immigration policy or to upend the lives of hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients. Congress and the President must act decisively and swiftly to enact lasting protections for Dreamers, including a pathway to citizenship, tweeted Hope Border Institute.
Similarly, the Cabrini Immigrant Services of New York tweeted, “We demand that Congress and @POTUS take immediate action to provide a pathway to citizenship. We cannot wait any longer. There are NO excuses.”
Biden pledged to protect DACA in his presidential campaign, and he has since proposed legislation that would provide immigrants with a pathway to citizenship. DACA supporters have long insisted that it’s up to Congress to pass legislation that would provide Dreamers with permanent relief.
Hanen similarly indicated that Congress needs to step in. When he rejected Texas’ request in 2018 to end DACA through a preliminary injunction, he wrote at the time: “If the nation truly wants to have a DACA program, it is up to Congress to say so.” To access the full article click here
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