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Day: February 3, 2015

Light a lamp to dissipate the darkness of human trafficking

(Vatican Radio) Have the courage to look into the darkness and light a lamp against human trafficking.
That’s what men and women of goodwill across the world are being asked to do this Sunday, Febuary 8th, International Day of Prayer and Awareness against human trafficking.
The initiative, presented on Tuesday morning in the Vatican, and promoted by the International Union of Superiors General in collaboration with the Pontifical Councils of Pastoral Care, of Migrants and Itinerant People, of Justice and Peace as well as the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, has gathered force also thanks to Pope Francis’ seal of approval.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : 

Describing the trafficking of persons as a crime against humanity, and urging all to join forces to free the victims and stop this increasingly aggressive crime, Pope Francis has given extra momentum to the work done by “Talitha Kum”: an amazing, world-wide  network of women religious who are committed to fighting the battle against this new form of slavery.    
But they cannot continue to do so alone. So the International Day, which symbolically falls on the Feast day of freed Sudanese slave Saint Josephine Bakhita,  is an invitation to all to take heed and commit, in some way, to fight one of the worst examples of slavery of the XXIst century.
Official statistics estimate roughly 21 million poor and vulnerable people are victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation, forced labour, begging, organ trafficking, domestic servitude, forced marriages, illegal adoption and other forms of exploitation.
The sisters point out: it happens to 2 and a half million people every year. 60 percent of them are women and children. Many suffer abuse and unspeakable violence. 
For traffickers – on the other hand – this is the third most lucrative activity in the world, after drugs and arms trafficking. 
It is also very plausible – the sisters say – that each and every one of us has met or crossed paths with a victim. And that is why we are we are all called to take responsibility, by raising awareness, denouncing traffickers, opposing the crime. 
“As for the person on the street, this is a very dangerous crime and the person on the street has to be very very careful to protect themselves so they can’t just rush in there” says  Sister Imelda Poole,  President of the local Albanian Talitha Kum branch of Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation, “but there are referrel mechanisms, and I would say to every human being: learn the referral mechanisms in your country, learn what to do if you find anything suspicous, don’t just sit back and say ‘I can do nothing’ because everybody can do something”.    
And very simply we are asked, on Sunday 8th February, to pray and to light a candle to help dissipate the darkness in which so many are trapped.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Light a lamp to dissipate the darkness of human trafficking

(Vatican Radio) Have the courage to look into the darkness and light a lamp against human trafficking. That’s what men and women of goodwill across the world are being asked to do this Sunday, Febuary 8th, International Day of Prayer and Awareness against human trafficking. The initiative, presented on Tuesday morning in the Vatican, and…
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Recognition of the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the friars Michal Tomaszek and Zbigniew Strazalkowski, and Fr. Alessandro Dordi

Vatican City, 3 February 2015 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father Francis received in a private audience Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, during which he authorised the Congregation to promulgate the following decrees:
– Servant of God Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdamez (El Salvador, 1917-1980), archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador, killed in hatred of the faith on 24 March 1980.
– Servants of God Michal Tomaszek (Poland, 1960) and Zbigniew Strazalkowski (Poland, 1958), professed priests of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, and Alessandro Dordi, Italian diocesan priest, killed in hatred of the faith in Peru on 9 and 25 August 1991.
– Servant of God Giovanni Bacile, Italian priest (1880-1941)….

8 February: First International Day of Prayer against Human Trafficking

Vatican City, 3 February 2015 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the first International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking. The Day will be held on 8 February, the feast day of Sudanese slave St. Josephine Bakhita who, after being freed, became a Canossian Sister and was canonised in 2000, and will be entitled: “A light against human trafficking”. The Day is promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace” and the International Union of Superiors General (UISG).
The conference was attended by Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life; Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples; and Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”. The other speakers were Sister Carmen Sammut, MSOLA, president of the International Union of Superiors General; Sister Gabriella Bottani, SMC, coordinator of Talitha Kum (the International Network of Consecrated Life against Trafficking in Persons); Sister Valeria Gandini, SMC; and Sister Imelda Poole IBVM, coordinator of the European Talitha Kum network.
Cardinal Turkson, speaking in English, reiterated that “millions of people today – children, women and men of all ages – are deprived of freedom and are forced to live in conditions akin to slavery. For those who cry out – usually in silence – for liberation, St Josephine Bakhita is an exemplary witness of hope. We, victims and advocates alike, could do no better than be inspired by her life and entrust our efforts to her intercession”.
He continued, “the Holy Father invites us all to recognise that we are facing a global phenomenon which exceeds the competence of any one community or country. In order to eliminate it, we need a mobilisation comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself”. The prelate explained that the International Day against Human Trafficking constitutes “a mobilisation of awareness and prayer on a global scale. 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”.
On the occasion of this first day of prayer and reflection, all dioceses, parishes, associations, families and individuals are invited to reflect and pray in order to cast light on this crime, as indicated by the theme of the initiative. In addition, prayer vigils will be held in different countries, culminating in the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square on 8 February.
On the day, the faithful are invited to recite the following prayer:
“O God, when we hear of children and adults
deceived and taken to unknown places for
purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labour, and
organ ‘harvesting’, our hearts are saddened and
our spirits angry that their dignity and rights are
ignored through threats, lies, and force.
We cry out against the evil practice of this modern
slavery, and pray with St. Bakhita for it to end.
Give us wisdom and courage to reach out and
stand with those whose bodies, hearts and spirits
have been so wounded, so that together we may
make real your promises to fill these sisters and
brothers with a love that is tender and good.
Send the exploiters away empty-handed to be
converted from this wickedness, and help us all to
claim the freedom that is your gift to your
children. Amen”….

Pope at Santa Marta: A lesson in contemplative prayer

(Vatican Radio) Daily contemplation of the Gospel helps us to have true hope, said Pope Francis Tuesday morning during Mass celebrated in the Casa Santa Marta chapel. In his homily, the Pope again urged people to take 10 minutes out of their day to pick up the Gospel and talk to the Lord, rather than waste it on TV soap operas or listening to other peoples’ gossip.
Focusing on the passage from the Letter to the Hebrews on hope, Pope Francis said that “keeping our gaze fixed on Jesus” is the core of hope.  He stressed that if we do not listen to the Lord, we may be “optimistic or positive” people but without the hope that we learn “from contemplating Christ”.  
This led the Holy Father to speak of “contemplative prayer”.  The Pope said that “it is good to pray the Rosary every day”, to talk “with the Lord, when we have a problem, or the Virgin Mary or the Saints ..”. But, “contemplative prayer” is important and this can only be done “with the Gospel in hand”:
He said: “‘How do I contemplate with today’s Gospel? I see that Jesus was in the middle of the people, he was surrounded by a large crowd. Five times this passage uses the word ‘crowd’. Did Jesus ever rest? This would lead me to think: ‘Always with the crowd …’. Most of Jesus’ life was on the streets, with the crowd. Did he ever rest? Yes, once, says the Gospel, he was sleeping on the boat but the storm came and the disciples woke him. Jesus was constantly in the midst of the people. And this is how we look at Jesus, contemplate Jesus, imagine Jesus. And so I tell Jesus what comes to my mind to tell him”.
Continuing his reflection on today’s Gospel, Pope Francis spoke of how Jesus realizes that a sick woman in the crowd touched him. Jesus, the Pope said, “not only understands the crowd, he feels the crowd”, “he feels the heartbeat of each of us, everyone. He cares for each and every one of us, always!”.
The case of the chief of the synagogue who goes “to speak to him of his daughter who was seriously ill” is similar: [Jesus] leaves everything to takes care of the matter. The Pope went on to depict the scene: Jesus arrives in the home, the women are crying because the little girl is dead, but the Lord tells them to be calm and they scorn him. Here, the Pope said, we see “the patience of Jesus.”
And then after the resurrection of the child, instead of saying “Praise be God!”, Jesus  tells them: “Please give her something to eat”. Pope Francis noted “Jesus always thinks of the little things.”
The Pope then pointed out “What I have just done with this Gospel is a prayer of contemplation: take up the Gospel, read and imagine the scene, imagine what happens and talk to Jesus, from the heart”:
“And with this we allow hope to grow, because we have our gaze fixed, we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. We should all carry out this contemplative prayer. ‘But I have so much to do!’. At home, 15 minutes, pick up the Gospel, a small passage, imagine what happened and talk with Jesus about it. So your gaze will be fixed on Jesus and not so much on a TV soap opera, for example. Your ears will be focused on the words of Jesus and not so much on your neighborhood gossip … “.
“This is how contemplative prayer helps us in hope. Living the substance of the Gospel. Always pray”.
Pope Francis invited people to “pray your prayers, pray the rosary, talk with the Lord, but also carry out this contemplative prayer keeping your gaze fixed on Jesus”. Hope comes from this prayer, he said, adding “our Christian life unfolds in that context, between memory and hope”:
“Memory of our past journey, memory of so many graces received from the Lord. And hope, looking at the Lord, who is the only one who can give me hope. And in order to gaze at the Lord, to know the Lord, we pick up the Gospel and carry out this contemplative prayer. Today, for example, try for 10 minutes – 15, no more – to read the Gospel, picture it and say something to Jesus. And nothing more. And so your knowledge of Jesus will be bigger and your hope will grow. Do not forget, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. And in order to do this contemplative prayer”.
(from Vatican Radio)…