50 Shades of what’s wrong with our world!
Yesterday, in the Roman Catholic Church, the 8th of February has been declared the International Day Anti-Trafficking. The patroness of this day is a saint called Josephine Bakhita. She became a saint and a Canossian Sister who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Sudan. When her captors asked for her name but she was too terrified to remember so they named her “Bakhita,” which means “fortunate” in Arabic. Indeed, she was fortunate, because she got out of slavery but there are millions who don’t.Trafficking in human beings is an illegal industry estimated to affect 36 million people around the world and to generate $150 billion in annual profits. Let us be reminded of the words of Pope Francis: “We ought to recognize that we are facing a global phenomenon which exceeds the competence of any community or country. In order to eliminate it, we need a mobilization comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself.”
This very week, International Union of Superiors General (UISG) are meeting in Rome to discuss urgent issues in religious life throughout the world. One of these major issues is the violence which women throughout the world experience. Several sisters spoke of the torturous conditions in which their communities live out their missions. Women religious in the Middle East and in parts of Africa are particularly susceptible to violence and political upheaval. One of the sisters, Sister of St. Therese of the Infant of Jesus, Scholastique Empela Ankonele from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, offered a horrifying glimpse of her tortured and divided nation. Instability, especially in the eastern region of Congo, continues to cause immense suffering, including staggering mortality rates, mass displacement, as well as widespread sexual violence, often used as a weapon to terrorize and humiliate communities. You can read more about this story here.