Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Saint December 4 : St. Barbara : Patron of Mathematicians, Miners, Military engineers, lightning, Sudden death

St. Barbara
Feast: December 4

Feast Day:December 4
Patron of:Artillery gunners, masons, mathematicians, miners, military engineers, stonecutters, against lightning, anyone who works at risk of sudden and violent death
There is no reference to St. Barbara contained in the authentic early historical authorities for Christian antiquity, neither does her name appear in the original recension of St. Jerome's martyrology. Veneration of the saint was common, however, from the seventh century. At about this date there were in existence legendary Acts of her martyrdom which were inserted in the collection of Symeon Metaphrastes and were used as well by the authors (Ado, Usuard, etc.) of the enlarged martyrologies composed during the ninth century in Western Europe. According to these narratives, which are essentially the same, Barbara was the daughter of a rich heathen named Dioscorus. She was carefully guarded by her father who kept her shut up in a tower in order to preserve her from the outside world. An offer of marriage which was received through him she rejected. Before going on a journey her father commanded that a bath-house be erected for her use near her dwelling, and during his absence Barbara had three windows put in it, as a symbol of the Holy Trinity, instead of the two originally intended. When her father returned she acknowledged herself to be a Christian; upon this she was ill-treated by him and dragged before the prefect of the province, Martinianus, who had her cruelly tortured and finally condemned her to death by beheading. The father himself carried out the death-sentence, but in punishment for this he was struck by lightning on the way home and his body consumed. Another Christian named Juliana suffered the death of a martyr along with Barbara. A pious man called Valentinus buried the bodies of the saints; at this grave the sick were healed and the pilgrims who came to pray received aid and consolation. The emperor in whose reign the martyrdom is placed is sometimes called Maximinus and sometimes Maximianus; owing to the purely legendary character of the accounts of the martyrdom, there is no good basis for the investigations made at an earlier date in order to ascertain whether Maximinus Thrax (235-238) or Maximinus Daza (of the Diocletian persecutions), is meant.
The traditions vary as to the place of martyrdom, two different opinions being expressed: Symeon Metaphrastes and the Latin legend given by Mombritius makes Heliopolis in Egypt the site of the martyrdom, while other accounts, to which Baronius ascribes more weight, give Nicomedia. In the "Martyrologium Romanum parvum" (about 700), the oldest martyrology of the Latin Church in which her name occurs, it is said: "In Tuscia Barbarae virginis et martyris", a statement repeated by Ado and others, while later additions of the martyrologies of St. Jerome and Bede say "Romae Barbarae virginis" or "apud Antiochiam passio S. Barbarae virg.". These various statements prove, however, only the local adaptation of the veneration of the saintly martyr concerning whom there is no genuine historical tradition. It is certain that before the ninth century she was publicly venerated both in the East and in the West, and that she was very popular with the Christian populace. The legend that her father was struck by lightning caused her, probably, to be regarded by the common people as the patron saint in time of danger from thunder-storms and fire, and later by analogy, as the protector of artillerymen and miners. She was also called upon as intercessor to assure the receiving of the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist at the hour of death. An occurrence of the year 1448 did much to further the spread of the veneration of the saint. A man named Henry Kock was nearly burnt to death in a fire at Gorkum; he called on St. Barbara, to whom he had always shown great devotion. She aided him to escape from the burning house and kept him alive until he could receive the last sacraments. A similar circumstance is related in an addition to the "Legenda aurea". In the Greek and present Roman calendars the feast of St. Barbara falls on 4 December, while the martyrologies of the ninth century, with the exception of Rabanus Maurus, place it on 16 December. St. Barbara has often been depicted in art; she is represented standing in a tower with three windows, carrying the palm of a martyr in her hand; often also she holds a chalice and sacramental wafer; sometimes cannon are displayed near her.

Saint December 4 : St. John Damascene : Doctor of the Church

Feast Day:December 4
Born:676, Damascus
Died:December 4, 749, Mar Saba, Jerusalem

St. John Damascene
Feast: December 4
This Doctor of the Church was born in Damascus, Syria, and his father was a government official under both the Byzantine emperor and the Muslim rulers of Damascus. Receiving an excellent classical education, and fluent in Arabic as well as Greek, St. John Damascene worked in the Muslim court until the hostility of the caliph toward Christianity caused him to resign his position, about the year 700.
He migrated to Jerusalem and became a monk at Mar Sabas monastery near Jerusalem. He taught in the monastery, preached many of his luminous sermons in Jerusalem, and began to compose his theological treatises.
It was about this time that the iconoclast controversy shook the Churches of the East, when the Byzantine emperor ordered the destruction of images in Christian churches. John fought the heresy, bringing down upon himself the wrath of the emperor and the hatred of the iconoclast party.
He has left a rich legacy of writings, including his principal dogmatic work, , which was a , a refutation of heresy, an exposition of the Orthodox faith, and a study of contemporary religious issues. His writings on Mary constitute a true theology of the Mother of God, and his sermons of the saints, the liturgical feasts, and the Gospels show not only vast learning but also give us information about local customs and contemporary happenings.
Since he lived in the midst of political and theological turmoil, John wrote much to clarify true doctrine and to do his part in spreading the Gospel. The fact that he lived and worked in Jerusalem itself gives his sermons, delivered at many of the holy places, a special appeal.
He died at a very old age, some say one hundred four, in the midst of his labors, beloved by his fellow monks and revered by the people. He was buried at the monastery of Mar Sabas and was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1890.

Free Catholic Movie : "Grace, Guts and Glory" : Drama of St. Francis Xavier : Stars Karan Kodade

Here is the drama of GRACE, GUTS AND GLORY - The Life of St. Francis Xavier, in English 
A film on the life of Saint Francis Xavier of Goa (1506-1552), the apostle to India, Indonesia and Japan. A great miracle worker (resurrected people from the dead, communicated after death etc.) He died in China. One of the greatest Catholic saints of all times, whose body remains incorrupt (does not disintegrate) since the 16th century and is kept in the Catholic Cathedral in Goa, India. Saint Francis Xavier was Spanish Jesuit, follower of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Modern Pope Francis is also Jesuit.

VIRAL Hallelujah by Cloverton brings tears...must see for Christmas - with Lyrics - SHARE

These new lyrics for Christmas are bringing everyone to tears....
I've heard about this baby boy
Who's come to earth to bring us joy
And I just want to sing this song to you
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
With every breath I'm singing Hallelujah

A couple came to Bethlehem
Expecting child, they searched the inn
To find a place for You were coming soon
There was no room for them to stay
So in a manger filled with hay
God's only Son was born, oh Hallelujah

The shepherds left their flocks by night
To see this baby wrapped in light
A host of angels led them all to You
It was just as the angels said
You'll find Him in a manger bed
Immanuel and Savior, Hallelujah

A star shown bright up in the east
To Bethlehem, the wisemen three
Came many miles and journeyed long for You
And to the place at which You were
Their frankincense and gold and myrrh
They gave to You and cried out Hallelujah

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah

Pope Francis "...fraternal dialogue between Catholics, Christians and Muslims." General Audience

Pope Francis among pilgrims at the general audience - AFP
03/12/2014 11:

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis had words of praise and thanks for Turkey and the Salesian fathers of Istanbul, for all the good and “hidden” work they do for countless refugees from the Iraqi and Syrian wars.
Retracing the steps of his recent pilgrimage to Turkey during his general audience Wednesday, the Pope also highlighted the constant need for prayer on the journey towards full communion with the Orthodox Church and reiterated the importance of Christians and Muslims working together in solidarity for peace.
Rain pounded umbrellas in St. Peter’s Square Wednesday, forcing the audience to be split in two – as the Pope himself noted greeting the ‘brave’ pilgrims before him.  Before heading out among the thousands in the Square the Pope had first greeted the sick and disabled who were gathered in the Paul VI audience hall, urging them to pray to Jesus this Advent season for the strength to carry on and blessing them before he left.
After touring through the square – despite the driving rain – the Pope also invited pilgrims to greet  the sick and disabled who were following the catechesis through giant screens with applause. Then he began to speak of his three day trip to Turkey over the weekend, highlighting the ecumenical and interfaith elements of his visit.
Below please find a Vatican Radio transcript and translation of the Holy Father’s catechesis:
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning. It’s not a great day is it? The weather is quite bad…but you are brave and face it anyway!  On we go! This audience is taking place in two different places, as we do when it rains: here in the square and then there are the sick in the Paul VI Hall. I met with them already, I greeted them, and they are following the audience on giant screens, because they are sick and cannot be out in the rain. Let’s greet them there with a round of applause, everyone!
Today I would like to share some things with you from my pilgrimage to Turkey from Friday to Sunday last. Today we retrace the steps of the pilgrimage I made to Turkey from Friday to Sunday last. Just as I asked you to prepare for and accompany me on that journey with prayer, today I ask you to give thanks to the Lord for its success and that it may bear fruits of dialogue in our relations with our Orthodox and Muslims brethren, as well as on the path to peace between peoples.
Firstly, I feel I must renew my gratitude to the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the President for Religious Affairs and other Authorities, who welcomed me with respect and guaranteed the good order of events. I fraternally thank the Bishops of the Catholic Church in Turkey, for their commitment, as well as the Ecumenical Patriarch, His Holiness Bartholomew I, for the warm welcome I received. Blessed Paul VI and John Paul II, who both went to Turkey, and John XXIII, who was Papal Delegate in that nation, protected my pilgrimage from heaven, which took place eight years after that of my predecessor Benedict XVI. That land is dear to every Christian, especially as the birthplace of the Apostle Paul, for having hosted the first seven councils, and for the presence, near Ephesus, of the "House of Virgin Mary".  Tradition tells us that the Virgin lived there, after the coming of the Holy Spirit.
On the first day of the Apostolic Trip I paid homage at the Mausoleum of Atatürk and I met the authorities of the country, which is overwhelmingly Muslim, but whose constitution establishes it as a  secular state. It is forgetfulness of God, and not His glorification, that generates violence. This is why I insisted on the importance of Christians and Muslims working together for solidarity, peace and justice, stating that each State must assure citizens and religious communities real freedom of worship.
Today, before going to greet the sick I was with a group of Christians and Muslims who were at a meeting organized by the Council for Interreligious Dialogue, under the leadership of Cardinal Tauran, and they too have expressed this desire to continue in this fraternal dialogue between Catholics, Christians and Muslims.
On the second day I visited places that are symbolic of the different faiths in Turkey. I did so, feeling in my heart an invocation to the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, the merciful Father of all humanity. The Eucharistic Celebration was the central focus of that day, which brought together in the Cathedral pastors and faithful of the various Catholic rites in Turkey. The Ecumenical Patriarch, the Armenian Patriarchal Apostolic Vicar, the Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan and representatives Protestant communities also attended. Together we invoked the Holy Spirit, He who generates unity in the Church: unity in faith, unity in charity, unity in inner cohesion. The People of God, in the richness of its traditions and articulations, is called to be guided by the Holy Spirit, in a constant attitude of openness, docility and obedience. Our journey of ecumenical dialogue is also the journey of our unity, of our Catholic Church, it is the Holy Spirit who does all the work. It’s up to us to let him do it, to welcome him and be inspired by him.
The third and final day, the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, offered the ideal context to consolidate fraternal relations between the Bishop of Rome, Successor of Peter, and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, which according to tradition is the Church founded by the Apostle Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. Together with His Holiness Bartholomew I, I renewed the mutual commitment to continue on the path towards the restoration of full communion between Catholics and Orthodox. Together we signed a Joint Declaration, a further stage on this journey. It was particularly significant that this act took place at the end of the solemn liturgy of the Feast of St. Andrew, which I attended with great joy, and which was followed by a double Blessing imparted by the Patriarch of Constantinople and by the Bishop of Rome. Indeed, prayer is the basis for any fruitful ecumenical dialogue under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who as I said, is the one who creates unity.
My last meeting – which was both beautiful and painful - was with a group of young refugees, guests of the Salesians. It was very important for me to meet some refugees from the war zones of the Middle East, both to express to them my closeness and that of the Church, and to emphasize the value of welcoming [refugees], an area in which Turkey has also shown a great commitment. I want to thank Turkey once again for its welcoming so many refugees and sincerely thank the Salesians of Istanbul. But, these Salesian who work with refugees, they are so good! I also met other priests and a German Jesuit and others who work with refugees but that Salesian oratory of refugees is a beautiful thing, it is a hidden work. Thank you so much to all of those people who work with refugees. Let us pray for all the refugees and IDPs, and that the causes of this painful scourge be overcome.
Dear brothers and sisters, may Almighty and Merciful God continue to protect the Turkish people, their leaders and the representatives of different religions. May they build together a future of peace, so that Turkey can be a place of peaceful coexistence between different religions and cultures. We also pray that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit will make this Apostolic Journey fruitful and favor missionary fervor in the Church, to announce to all peoples, in respect and fraternal dialogue, that the Lord Jesus is truth, peace and love. He alone is the Lord. Thank You.(Emer McCarthy)

Latest from News from Vatican Information Service - Investigation of Msgr. Wesolowski

03-12-2014 - Year XXII - Num. 215 

- General audience: Francis' trip to Turkey
- Declaration by the Director of the Holy See Press Office
- Other Pontifical Acts
General audience: Francis' trip to Turkey
Vatican City, 3 December 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis dedicated the catechesis of this Wednesday's general audience to his recent visit to Turkey, a land dear to many Christians for being the birthplace of the apostle Paul, hosting the first seven councils, and for the presence, near Ephesus, of the “House of Mary”. In the same way as he asked the faithful, before his journey, to accompany him in prayer, today he asked them to give thanks to the Lord for the success of the trip and to pray that it might bear the fruit of dialogue in our relationship with our Orthodox and Muslim brothers, and in the path towards peace among peoples.
Francis spoke first of his meeting with the authorities on Friday 29, thanking them for the care and respect with which they greeted him. In a constitutionally secular country with a Muslim majority, the Pope noted that it is oblivion to God and not His glorification that engenders violence, and insisted before the leaders of the nation on the importance of concerted efforts between Christians and Muslims for solidarity, peace and justice, reaffirming the need for States to guarantee real freedom of worship to citizens and religious communities.
On the second day, the Pope visited the Museum of Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, highly symbolic places for the different religions that co-exist in Turkey. “I did so, feeling within my heart the wish to invoke the Lord, God of Heaven and Earth, merciful Father of all humanity”. The central event of the day was the Mass held in the Cathedral, attended by pastors and faithful of the various Catholic rites in Turkey, along with representatives of other confessions, to invoke together the Holy Spirit, “who builds the unity of the Church: unity in faith, unity in charity, unity in internal cohesion”, so that the People of God, “in the richness of their traditions”, may grow in openness and obedience to His divine action”.
The feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, patron of the Church of Constantinople, on 30 November, offered the ideal context for consolidating the fraternal relations between the Bishop of Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios I, who renewed their joint commitment to the path of re-establishing full communion between Catholics and Orthodox, and signed a Joint Declaration which represents a significant step along the way. Francis expressed his joy at having participated in the Divine Liturgy and for the dual blessing imparted by the Pope and the Patriarch at the end. “Prayer is the foundation of any fruitful ecumenical dialogue under the guidance of the Holy Spirit”.
The Holy Father's final meeting, of which he spoke with emotion, was with a group of young refugees from the war zones of the Middle East, under the care of the Salesians. “It was very important for me to meet them”, he said, “both to express my closeness and that of the Church, and to highlight the importance of hospitality; a value to which Turkey is committed”. The Pope again thanked the country for its work in this field, praised the Salesians for their work with the young refugees, and concluded by again asking all those present to pray for refugees and internally displaced people, and for the removal of the causes of this “painful scourge”.
Declaration by the Director of the Holy See Press Office
Vatican City, 3 December 2014 (VIS) – The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., answered questions posed by journalists late yesterday afternoon on the situation regarding the ex-nuncio Msgr. Wesolowski.
“This morning, the Promoter of Justice of the Tribunal of Vatican City State, Professor Gian Piero Milano, met with the Attorney General of the Dominican Republic, Francisco Dominguez Brito, upon request by this latter, during a trip in Europe to make contacts in Poland and the Vatican. The meeting took place within a broader context of international level cooperation amongst the investigative bodies engaged in the proceedings against Msgr. Wesolowski and the related investigations in progress, and it was useful for both parties given the complexity of the enquiry and the possibility of a letter rogatory from the Vatican to request further elements.
Meanwhile, regarding the situation of Msgr. Wesolowski, I am able to state that the Magistrature of Vatican City State, continuing its investigations, has already questioned the defendant, and future rounds of questioning will take place. As the custody time limit has lapsed, and in view of his state of health, Msgr. Wesolowski has been permitted a certain freedom of movement, but is obliged to remain within the State and is subject to appropriate restrictions on external communications”.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 3 December 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:
- appointed Rev. Ivan Pereira as bishop of Jammu-Srinagar (area 222,236, population 13,849,892, Catholics 18,161, priests 61, religious 214), India. The bishop-elect was born in Vasai, India in 1964 and was ordained a priest in 1993. He holds a B.A. in education and a Master's degree in English, and has served in a number of pastoral and administrative roles, including parish vicar in Jammu; parish priest in various parishes, including the Cathedral and “Our Lady of Fatima”, Srinagar; rector of St. Paul's minor seminary, Akalpur, Jammu; secretary of the Regional Catholic Council of North India; and president of the Regional Conference of Diocesan Priests, North India. He is currently director of the Diocesan Education Board of the diocese of Jammu-Srinagar and principal of the Burn Hall Higher Secondary School, Srinagar. He succeeds Bishop Peter Celestine Elampassery, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese was accepted by the Holy Father, upon having reached the age limit.
- appointed Bishop Odelir Jose Magri, M.C.C.J., of Sobral, Brazil, as bishop of Chapeco (area 15,663, population 772,000, Catholics 635,000, priests 85, religious 223), Brazil.
- appointed Bishop Zanoni Demettino Castro of Sao Mateus as coadjutor archbishop of Feira de Santana (area 6,730, population 963,000, Catholics 895,000, priests 73, permanent deacons 9, religious 157), Brazil.
- appointed Bishop Waldemar Passini Dalbello, auxiliary of Goiania, Brazil, as coadjutor bishop of Luziania (area 16,424, population 776,000, Catholics 624,000, priests 55, permanent deacons 4, religious 100), Brazil.

Today's Mass Readings : Wednesday December 3, 2014

Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest
Lectionary: 177

Reading 1IS 25:6-10A

On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the veil that veils all peoples,
The web that is woven over all nations;
he will destroy death forever.
The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from all faces;
The reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken.

On that day it will be said:
“Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”
For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.

Responsorial Psalm PS 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

R. (6cd) I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.


R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold, the Lord comes to save his people;
blessed are those prepared to meet him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 15:29-37

At that time:
Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee,
went up on the mountain, and sat down there.
Great crowds came to him,
having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute,
and many others.
They placed them at his feet, and he cured them.
The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking,
the deformed made whole,
the lame walking,
and the blind able to see,
and they glorified the God of Israel.

Jesus summoned his disciples and said,
“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,
for they have been with me now for three days
and have nothing to eat.
I do not want to send them away hungry,
for fear they may collapse on the way.”
The disciples said to him,
“Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place
to satisfy such a crowd?”
Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?”
“Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.”
He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.
Then he took the seven loaves and the fish,
gave thanks, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied.
They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full.

Pope Francis "We ask the Lord, in this Advent season, to bring us nearer to his mystery..." Homily

Pope at Mass at Santa Marta - OSS_ROM
02/12/2014 01:14

(Vatican Radio) Those who study the mystery of God are brought to their knees because God reveals more to a humble heart. Those were the Pope’s words during his Homily at Mass Tuesday morning at the Casa Santa Martha.The eyes of the poor, said Pope Francis, are most likely to see Christ and, through him, to see the face of God. Others who claim to fathom this mystery with the resources of intelligence must first get down on their "knees", in an act of humility , otherwise "they will not understand anything."
During his Homily the Pope focused on the Gospel of St Luke from the morning’s liturgy, reflecting on Christ’s relationship to the Father, both praising and thanking him.
"He makes us know the Father, introduces us to this inner life that He has. And tp whom does the Father reveal this? To whom does he give this grace? 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little ones'. Only those whose hearts are like the young are capable of receiving this revelation, the humble of heart, the meek, who feel the need to pray, to open up to God, who feel poor; only he who goes forward with the first Beatitude: the poor in spirit. "
 Therefore, poverty is a privileged gift that opens the door to the mystery of God. A gift that sometimes, noted Pope Francis, that may be lacking in those dedicated to a life of study.
"Many may know the science, theology well, so many! But if they do not practice this theology on their knees, humbly, like children, they will not understand anything. It will tell them many things, but they will not understand anything. Only with this poverty is one capable of receiving the revelation that the Father gives through Jesus, through Jesus. Jesus is, not like a captain, an army general, a powerful ruler, no, no. He is like a bud. Just like we heard in the First Reading: 'On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse'. He is a bud that is humble, mild, and came to the humble, and to the meek, to bring salvation to the sick, the poor, the oppressed.”
 Pope Francis continued by saying that the mystery Jesus is that of humbling oneself. It is a mystery that  "brings salvation to the poor, brings comfort to those who are stricken by many diseases, sins and difficult situations." "Out of this context”, concluded Pope Francis you cannot understand the mystery of Jesus":
"We ask the Lord, in this Advent season, to bring us nearer to his mystery and to do so the way that He wants us to do: the way of humility, the way of meekness, the way of poverty, the road where we feel sin. So that he can come to save us, to free us. May the Lord give us this grace. "

Pope Francis joins Faith Leaders against Slavery - Full Text

Pope Francis joins religious leaders from around the world in the Vatican to sign a joint declaration against modern slavery - REUTERS
02/12/2014 03:10
(Vatican Radio) An unprecedented gathering of religious leaders from all corners of the globe took place in the Vatican on Tuesday for the signing of a joint declaration against modern slavery. Pope Francis joined Anglican, Orthodox, Jewish, Shia and Sunni Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist representatives in the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, together with two young trafficking victims from Mexico and Ghana. No-one knows the exact number of men and women, boys and girls who are trafficked into prostitution, forced labour or the trade in human body parts. Some estimates put the figure as high as 35 million, but as one participant pointed out, it’s not the numbers that matter as much as the fact that every single one of those people could be your brother or sister, my son or daughter.
When the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby first met Pope Francis in 2013, they identified the scourge of human trafficking as one of the most urgent priorities for both of their Churches today. Less than a year later, the ecumenical Global Freedom Network was set up to try and harness the commitment of believers around the world for practical action to eradicate this modern slavery by the year 2020.
This gathering of religious leaders in the Vatican today represents around 90 percent of the world’s population and the declaration they signed commits their communities to working together for the freedom of all people and an end to this lucrative trade in human life. In his words to the group, Pope Francis called it an absurd evil and a crime against humanity….
This crime, the Pope said, is often hidden behind closed doors, on the streets, in the factories, fields or fishing boats where people are forced to work in dirty, dangerous and degrading conditions…..
It is the poor and most vulnerable, he said, who are usually the victims of this crime and it’s a problem which is growing day by day. That’s why these leaders of all different faith communities came to the Vatican on the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, to commit their spiritual and practical support to this cause. As the declaration says, we already have the awareness, wisdom and technology to stamp out this crime. This extraordinary gathering of so many faith leaders here today marks a significant step towards achieving that goal.
Please see below the Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders against Modern Slavery
 “We, the undersigned, are gathered here today for a historic initiative to inspire spiritual and practical action by all global faiths and people of good will everywhere to eradicate modern slavery across the world by 2020 and for all time.
In the eyes of God*, each human being is a free person, whether girl, boy, woman or man, and is destined to exist for the good of all in equality and fraternity. Modern slavery, in terms of human trafficking, forced labour and prostitution, organ trafficking, and any relationship that fails to respect the fundamental conviction that all people are equal and have the same freedom and dignity, is a crime against humanity.
We pledge ourselves here today to do all in our power, within our faith communities and beyond, to work together for the freedom of all those who are enslaved and trafficked so that their future may be restored. Today we have the opportunity, awareness, wisdom, innovation and technology to achieve this human and moral imperative.”