World Day of Prayer, Reflection, and Action against Human Trafficking
With encouragement from Pope Francis, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Union of Superiors General designated February 8th as an annual day of prayer, reflection, and action against human trafficking.
On this day, we remember and pray for survivors and victims of modern-day slavery. We pray that we may work together to remove the causes of this disgraceful scourge that is present in all our cities and neighborhoods. This day is also one of awareness and action: our prayers are strengthened three-fold when we accompany them with a willingness to become aware of the problem and become involved in erasing this evil.
February 8th is also the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita. Born in the Darfur region of Sudan in 1869, St. Bakhita was kidnapped and enslaved as a child. Eventually she was sold to an Italian diplomat and taken to Italy, where she valiantly asserted her freedom with the help of the Cannossian Sisters of Venice. Through her faith, St. Bakhita realized the promise of liberty inherent in the human spirit. She lived out the rest of her life as a Cannossian sister, sharing her empowering testimony of human freedom and dignity. In 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized Josephine Bakhita, noting that in this saint, “we find a shining advocate of genuine emancipation.”
On February 8th, Catholics around the world are encouraged to host or attend prayer services to generate greater awareness about human trafficking. Through prayer, we not only reflect on the experiences of those that have suffered through this affront to human dignity but also comfort, strengthen, and help empower survivors. As Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle stated, “On [February 8th], we will lift our voices loudly in prayer, hope, and love for trafficking victims and survivors. If just one person realizes from this day that they or someone they know is being trafficked, we will have made a difference.”
Use this toolkit to take action and host a prayer service.