Justice and Peace Issues
Feb. 8 Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita
While she was a slave in Darfur, South Sudan, Bakhita was sold to the Italian Vice Consul, Callisto Legani, in 1883. He took her back with him to Italy, where she was given to a family to work as a nanny. Later, the family left her with the Canossian Sisters, a women’s religious order, in Venice, while they traveled to Sudan for business.
Bakhita was cared for by the Canossian Sisters during the legal battle that ensued for her freedom from slavery. Eventually, an Italian court ruled that since slavery had been outlawed in Sudan prior to her birth, she was not legally a slave. With her newfound freedom, Bakhita chose to receive the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and first holy communion in 1890. Three years later she became a novice with the Canossian Daughters of Charity, taking the name Josephine Margaret “Fortunata” — a Latin translation of her Arabic name, Bakhita, which means “lucky.”
Bakhita was beatified in 1992 and canonized in 2000 by Saint Pope John Paul II. She is the first canonized saint from Sudan and is the country’s patron saint. Throughout his pontificate, Pope Francis has highlighted Bakhita’s example of holiness, and invoked the saint’s intercession for victims of trafficking.
WHAT’S HAPPENING INTERNATIONALLY
Journeying in Dignity: all continents unite in prayer An international delegation of young people meet in Rome
The ninth International Day of Prayer and Reflection against Trafficking in Persons will be held on Wednesday, February 8, 2023. The theme for this year, chosen by an international group of young people involved in the fight against trafficking, is Journeying in Dignity.
The steps, the journey, and the shared road between those who are committed to combatting trafficking and those who are victims and survivors. All of these are at the heart of this Day when we will witness thousands of people around the world – in many parishes, communities, groups – come together, reflect, pray and send a message to the world against this global phenomenon.
WALKING IN DIGNITY: A WEEK OF INITIATIVES WITH YOUNG PEOPLE AT THE CENTRE
Watch this video about the launch from Srs. Gabriella and Abby.
This year, for the first time since its establishment – which took place in 2015 at the desire of Pope Francis – 15 young representatives of the partner organizations will gather in Rome from all continents for a week of meetings and training on trafficking in human beings. At the end of the week, the group will launch the statement of commitment which will start the process of preparation for the tenth anniversary of the Day (IDPAAHT).
The week of gathering begins on Monday 6 February with an ecumenical vigil prayer in English and Italian at 7.15 pm in the Parish of Santa Lucia, in the Prati district of Rome, an area of the capital where three women in prostitution were brutally killed last November; the Catholic community will join the interfaith community.
The central moment of the week will be the online Pilgrimage of prayer and awareness on Wednesday, February 8th, the feast of Saint Bakhita, the universal symbol of the commitment of the Church against trafficking. The pilgrimage of prayer starts at 9.30 am CET time and, crossing the different time zones, will involve all the continents starting in Oceania, then Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and closing at 16.30 in North America. The event will be live-streamed in 5 languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian) on preghieracontrotratta.org
The central block is entrusted to young people committed against trafficking, and during which a message from Pope Francis will be aired, as has happened in previous years.
The participants in the online pilgrimage are the expression from over 50 countries on all continents. All people of goodwill; young and old, women and men, lay and religious people, survivors, and activists are united against trafficking.
THE FLASH-MOB AND THE END OF THE WEEK IN ST. PETER’S SQUARE
On February 10, Fri. at 15.30 (3:30 US) in via della Conciliazione, the dance group “Evolution Company of the Holy Dance” together with the group of young international representatives will give life through a flash-mob against trafficking.
The week ends on Sun. 12 February with participation in the Angelus Prayer in St. Peter’s Square.
The initiative is coordinated by Talitha Kum, the international anti-trafficking network of more than 6,000 nuns, friends and partners, and is promoted by the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) and the Union of Superiors General in partnership with the Dicastery for Promoting the Integral Human Development, the Dicastery of Communication, the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, Caritas Internationalis, CoatNet, the Focolare Movement, the Jesuit Refugee Service, the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations (WUCWO), The Clewer Initiative, the Pope John XXIII Community Association, the International Forum of Catholic Action Associations and Federations of Movements, the Association of Italian Catholic Guides and Scouts (Agesci), the Santa Marta Group and many other organizations around the world. The Day was made possible thanks to the support of the Global Solidarity Fund.
“The theme chosen this year ” Journeying in dignity ” is an invitation to all people of goodwill to walk with the victims and survivors of human trafficking, and in particular the migrant populations, as pilgrims of human dignity and hope. Young people, adults and children, people of different religious traditions, cultures and generations. Only together, as a community, we can put an end to this scourge. Safeguarding the dignity of every person is only possible if we know how to uphold peace and protect the environment – Sister Abby Avelino, MM, coordinator of the day, said.