In 2014, Pope Francis entrusted the International Union of Superiors and Superiors General to carry out the Day of Prayer and Reflection against Human Trafficking. It was chosen as the date February 8, the day of Saint Bakhita. who was a victim of human trafficking, being a slave at age 9, in her native Sudan. She was proclaimed Saint by St. John Paul II.

This year, under the slogan “Economy without trafficking”, there was a great world marathon, traveling for 7 hours the 5 continents knowing the efforts, commitments, work of many people in the fight against human trafficking, the central moment was the intervention of Pope Francisco.

During the first years we wanted to adhere to the Pope’s request, but we found the inconvenience that, being summertime in the southern hemisphere, it was not a very favorable date to raise awareness about this crime.

For this reason, three years ago the Episcopal Commission for Migrants and Itinerants (CEMI*) asked the Episcopal Conference to move this date to the third Sunday in September, close to 23, International Day against Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Women, boys and Girls. For this date, a liturgical script is prepared that is sent to all the parishes of the country, they participate in the at the Plaza de Constitución, which the then Cardinal Bergoglio began to celebrate, and different actions promoted by the Commission, as well as from the delegations, and groups in which we participate, such as the Team No To Trafficking of the National Commission for Justice and Peace.

In any case, each year for February 8, the bishops of the CEMI issue a statement to adhere to the prayer promoted by the Pope.

Since last year we have participated in the CLAMOR Network’s Human Trafficking Area (which deals with Migrants, Refugees and Victims of Trafficking at the CELAM level), the CLAR Sisters proposed a year of the Continental Campaign against Human Trafficking It will run from February 8 to September 23, 2021. As the coordinator of the CEMI Human Trafficking Area, I am part of this sector.

The great surprise this year has been, to see how the sensitivity has grown within the Argentine Catholic Church, on February 8, in many Masses Saint Bakhita and Human Trafficking were mentioned, we had several radio and video interviews. Feels that it is a drop in the bucket, little by little with patience and perseverance, we will make our Church      

–and society in general– open their eyes to this crime of which millions of people are victims.

Although it seems that there is a lot to do, and without a doubt there is, I personally thank the Holy Father who helped us remember that without God’s help, without putting trust in Him, it is impossible, His strength is needed to knowing how to carry out this task, because “it touches the heart and prompts concrete actions.” Most of the time, the concrete results are few in our eyes, but with the certainty that “some sow, others reap, and joy belongs to all” (Psalm 125, 5-6), we move on.

Marcela Villares

Comisión Episcopal para Migrantes e Itinerantes. Argentina

Equipo no a la Trata. Justicia Paz e Integridad de la Creación.

S. Constanza Diprimio, aci is a member