Human Trafficking

Pope Francis

08.04.20 Holy Mass, Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)

Wednesday of Holy Week

Matthew 26: 14-25

Let us pray today for those people who in this time of pandemic are taking advantage of those in need: they are profiting from the necessity of others and sell them: the mafia, those who lend and many others. May the Lord touch their hearts and convert them.

Holy Wednesday is also called "Spy Wednesday" or "Betrayal Wednesday", the day on which the Church emphasizes the betrayal of Judas. Judas sells the Master.

When we think about selling people, what comes to mind is the slave trade made that took place between Africa and America – an old thing – then the trade, for example, of Yazidi girls sold to Daesh: but it is a distant thing, it is a thing ... Even today people are sold. Every day. There are Judas's who sell their brothers and sisters, exploiting them in their work, not paying the just wage, not recognizing their duties ... In fact, many time they sell those who are most dear to us. I think that to be more comfortable one is able to turn away parents and not see them anymore, put them safe in a nursing home and not go to see them ... Sell them. There is a very common saying that, speaking of people like this, says that "he is capable of selling his mother": and they sell them. Now they are quiet, they are turned away: "Take care of them you ...".

Today human trafficking is as it was in earlier times: it is done. Why is that? Because as Jesus said. They made money a lord. Jesus said, "You cannot serve God and money," two lords. There is only one thing that Jesus puts to us and each one of us must choose: either serve God, and you will be free in adoration and service, or you serve money, and you will be a slave to money. This is the option and so many people want to serve God and money. And that can't be done. In the end, they pretend to serve God to serve money. They are the hidden exploiters who are socially impeccable, but under the table they trade, even with people: it doesn't matter. Human exploitation is selling ones neighbour.

Judas went away, but he has left disciples, who are not his disciples but the devils. What Judas's life was like, we don't know. A normal boy, perhaps, with anxieties, because the Lord called him to be a disciple. He never succeeded in being one: he didn't have a disciple's way of talking and a disciple's heart, as we read in the first Reading. He was weak in his discipleship, but Jesus loved him. You can say he was a worthy person. Then the Gospel makes us understand that he liked money: at Lazarus's house, when Mary anoints the feet of Jesus with that expensive perfume, he makes the reflection and John points out: "But he does not say it because he loved the poor: because he was a thief". Love of money had led him outside of the rules, to steal, and from steeling to betraying there is only a little step. Those who love money too much betray to get more, always: it is a rule, it is a fact. The boy Judas, perhaps good, with good intentions, ends up a traitor to the point of going to the market to sell him: "He went to the chief priests and said, "What are you willing to give me for me to hand him over to you, directly?" In my opinion, this man was out of his mind.

One thing that catches my attention is that Jesus never says "traitor"; he says he will be betrayed, but does not call him "traitor." He never says, "Go away, traitor." Never! In fact, he says to him, "Friend," and kisses him. The mystery of Judas ... What is the mystery of Judas? I don't know... Don Primo Mazzolari explained it better than I did ... Yes, I console myself to contemplate that capital of Vezelay: how did Judas end? I don't know. Jesus threatens strongly here; a strong threat: "Woe to that man from whom the Son of Man is betrayed: better for that man if he had never been born!" But does that mean Judas is in hell? I don't know. I look at the capital. And I hear the word of Jesus: "Friend."

But this makes us think of another thing, which is more real today: the devil entered Judas, it was the devil who led him to this point. And how did the story end? The devil is a bad payer: he is not a reliable payer. He promises you everything, makes you see everything and in the end leaves you alone in your desperation to hang yourself.

The heart of Judas, restless, tormented by greed and tormented by love of Jesus, a love that has failed, tormented with this fog that he was in, he returns to the priests asking for forgiveness, asking for salvation. "What is that to us? Look to it yourself ...": the devil speaks like this and leaves us in despair.

Let us think of so many institutionalized Judas in this world, who exploit people. And let us also think of the little Judas that each of us has within ourselves at the hour of choosing: between loyalty or self-interest. Each of us has the capacity to betray, to sell, to choose for our own interest. Each of us has the possibility of being attracted to the love of money or goods or future well-being. "Judas, where are you?" But each of us has to ask the question: "You, Judas, the little Judas I have inside: where are you?"

08.04.20

Pope Francis


08.02.21 Message for the 7th World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action against Human Trafficking

Dear sisters and brothers!

I address all of you who work against human trafficking and who are spiritually united today on this World Day of Prayer, which also has a specific intention: an “An Economy without Human Trafficking”. I am pleased to know that this year several moments of prayer are interfaith, one of which will also take place in Asia.

I extend my message to all people of good will who pray, engage, study and reflect on the fight against human trafficking; and especially to those - like Saint Josephine Bakhita, whom we celebrate today - who have experienced the tragedy of human trafficking in their own lives.

This day is important because it helps us all to remember this tragedy, and encourages us not to stop praying and fighting together. May reflection and awareness always be accompanied by concrete gestures, which also open up paths to social emancipation. Indeed, the aim is for every enslaved person to return to being a free agent of his or her own life and to take an active part in the construction of the common good.

Dear friends, this is a Day of Prayer. Yes, there is a need to pray to support the victims of trafficking and those who accompany the processes of integration and social reintegration. We need to pray that we may learn to approach with humanity and courage those who have been marked by so much pain and despair, keeping hope alive. Prayer enables us to be beacons, capable of discerning and making choices oriented towards good. Prayer touches the heart and impels us to concrete actions, to innovative, courageous actions, able to take risks trusting in the power of God (cf. Mk 11:22-24).

The liturgical memorial of Saint Josephine Bakhita is a powerful reminder of this dimension of faith and prayer: her witness always resonates, alive and relevant! And it is a call to place trafficked persons, their families, their communities at the centre. They are the centre of our prayer. Saint Josephine Bakhita reminds us that they are the protagonists of this day, and that we are all at their service (cf. Lk 17:10).

And now I would like to share with you some ideas for reflection and action on the theme you have chosen: “An Economy without Human Trafficking”. You can find other ideas in the message I addressed to the participants in the “Economy of Francesco” event on 21 November.

An economy without human trafficking is:

An economy of care. Care can be understood as taking care of people and nature, offering products and services for the growth of the common good. An economy that cares for work, creating employment opportunities that do not exploit workers through degrading working conditions and gruelling hours. The Covid pandemic has exacerbated and worsened the conditions of labour exploitation; job losses have penalised many trafficked persons in the process of rehabilitation and social reintegration. “At a time when everything seems to disintegrate and lose consistency, it is good for us to appeal to the ‘solidity’ both of the consciousness that we are responsible for the fragility of others as we strive to build a common future” (Encyclical Fratelli Tutti, 115). Therefore, an economy of care means an economy of solidarity: we work for solidity combined with solidarity. We are convinced that solidarity, well administered, gives rise to more secure and sound social construction (cf. ibid.)

An economy without human trafficking is an economy with market rules that promote justice, not exclusive special interests. Human trafficking finds fertile ground in the approach of neo-liberal capitalism, in the deregulation of markets aimed at maximising without ethical limits, without social limits, without environmental limits (cf. ibid., 210). If this logic is followed, there is only the calculation of advantages and disadvantages. Choices are not made on the basis of ethical criteria, but by pandering to dominant interests, often cleverly obscured by a humanitarian or ecological veneer. Choices are not made by looking at people: people are numbers, to be exploited.

For all that, an economy without human trafficking is a courageous economy - it takes courage. Not in the sense of recklessness, of risky operations in the hope of easy gains. No, not in that sense; of course it is not courage that is needed, this On the contrary, it is the courage of patient construction, of planning that does not always look only at the very short term gain, but at the medium and long term fruits and, above all, at people. The courage to combine legitimate profit with the promotion of employment and decent working conditions. In times of great crisis, such as the current one, this courage is even more necessary. In times of crisis, human trafficking proliferates, as we all know: we see it every day. In times of crisis, human trafficking proliferates; therefore, we need to strengthen an economy that may respond to the crisis in a way that is not short-sighted, in a lasting way, in a solid way.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us put all this in our prayer, especially today, by the intercession of Saint Josephine Bakhita. I pray for you, and let us all pray together for every person who is a victim of human trafficking at this moment. And please, do not forget to pray for me. Thank you!

08.02.21