A one day formation to novices on human trafficking and prostitution
Do you know the universal prayer intention of Pope Francis for February 2019?
“For a generous welcome to the victims of human trafficking, enforced prostitution, and violence.”
He is concerned because around 40 million people are trafficked globally each year. Slavery was abolished once, but now it is back, more widespread than ever and it needs to be re-abolished.
Human trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar criminal industry, ranking only behind the illegal arms trade and the drug trade. This reality is “hidden in plain sight” and all around we see signs of prostitution. You only have to drive through the city center of Cebu and pass along Mango avenue to see many fruits of the flesh on sale. It is a very sad world when we sit idly by and watch mainly men buy the bodies of women (and children). As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said “not to speak is to speak.” Our silence speaks sometimes of our indifference.
Pope Francis challenges us “Let us not look the other way. There is greater complicity than we think. The issue involves everyone! This infamous network of crime is now well established in our cities, and many people have blood on their hands as a result of their comfortable and silent complicity” (Pope Francis, Evangelii gaudium, 2013, no. 211). The Catholic church teaching is so clear “Prostitution does injury to the dignity of the person who engages in it, reducing the person to an instrument of sexual pleasure. The one who pays sins gravely against himself: he violates the chastity to which his Baptism pledged him and defiles his body, the temple of the Holy Spirit” (Catechism of the Catholic church, no. 2355). Some experts in this area feel that the demand for prostitution is growing. Why? Because of the increasing use of internet pornography. They say “pornography is the theory and prostitution is the practice.” That is why Pope Francis also teaches that the “true solution is the conversion of hearts, cutting off demand in order to dry out the market” (Pope Francis, Address to the Participants in the World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action against Human Trafficking, 12 February 2018). If there is no demand from the customers, then there would be no supply.
In this light of trying to do something, Fr James gave a whole day formation in Manila to 75 novices from various communities and countries. He shared Catholic church teaching on Human trafficking and prostitution, citing sources from the bible, tradition, and magisterium. Each community was asked “How can we respond in the light of our charism?”
As Verbum Dei, tasked also with the evangelization of society, we can pray for this reality, for the victims, for the customers, for the conversion of heart of bar owners. In our talks, our preaching, we can ask that we no longer consider the body of the other as something that can be bought. We should aim “that the Word may have an impact on the unjust structures of the world in order to transform them according to the Kingdom of God” (Verbum Dei spirituality).
So on your way home at night, spare a prayer for all the prostituted women beginning work in the bars, and for the many men, both Filipino and foreigners, who are losing their soul because we (society) “allow them” to buy the body of another.
St Josephine Bakhita, patron Saint of victims of human trafficking, pray for us!
For a thought-provoking advert on the dangers of human trafficking see:
With thanks to James McTavish and the WordNews teams