Thursday, September 26, 2019

Pope Francis encourages International Network against Trafficking of People - "Talitha Kum" - "It is an example for the whole Church..."


Hall of the Consistory
Thursday, 26 September 2019

Dear Sisters,

I am truly pleased to be able to receive you today on the occasion of your first General Assembly. I thank Sister Kafka and Sister Bottani for their introduction. Talitha Kum was born in 2001 from a missionary intuition of the International Union of Superiors General, and is presented today as a worldwide network that coordinates the efforts of institutes of consecrated life committed against trafficking in persons. In just ten years it has come to coordinate 52 religious networks present in more than 90 countries on all continents. The numbers of your service speak for themselves: two thousand operators, more than fifteen thousand victims of trafficking assisted and more than two hundred thousand people reached with prevention and awareness-raising activities.

I congratulate you on the important work you are doing in this very complex and dramatic area. A work that combines the mission and collaboration between institutions. You have chosen to be on the front line. Therefore the numerous congregations that have worked and work as "avant-gardes" of the Church's missionary action against the scourge of human trafficking deserve gratitude (see Speech to the participants in the Conference on trafficking in persons, 11 April 2019). And also work together: it is an example. It is an example for the whole Church, also for us: men, priests, bishops ... It is an example. Go on like this!

This your first assembly has set itself as the main objective the evaluation of the progress made and the identification of missionary priorities for the next five years. You have decided to discuss two main issues related to the phenomenon of trafficking in the various work sessions. On the one hand, the great differences that still mark the condition of women in the world, derived mainly from socio-cultural factors. On the other hand, the limits of the neoliberal development model, which with its individualistic vision risks undermining the State. It is undoubtedly complex and urgent challenges that require adequate and effective answers. I know that in your assembly you have committed yourself to identifying solutions, highlighting the resources necessary to carry them out. I appreciate this work of pastoral planning with a view to more qualified and fruitful assistance to the local Churches.

While important, these are not the only challenges we face. The Migrants and Refugees Section of the Department for the Integral Human Development Service recently published the "Pastoral Guidelines on the Trafficking of Persons", a document that explains the complexity of today's challenges and offers clear indications for all pastoral workers who want to engage in this area.

I want to renew my encouragement to all the female institutes of consecrated life that have arranged and supported the commitment of their sisters in the fight against trafficking and in helping victims. As I invite you to give continuity to this commitment, I also appeal to other religious congregations, both female and male, to adhere to this missionary work, putting personal service and resources so that they can reach every place. I also hope that the foundations and benefactors will multiply and ensure their generous and disinterested support for your activities. Regarding this invitation to other religious congregations, I think of the problems that many congregations have, and perhaps some, both female and male, will be able to tell you: "We have so many problems to solve inside, we cannot ...". Tell them that the Pope said that "inside" problems are resolved by going out on the road, so that fresh air enters.

Considering the extent of the challenges posed by trafficking, it is necessary to promote a synergistic commitment on the part of the different ecclesial realities. While on the one hand pastoral responsibility is essentially entrusted to the local Churches and Ordinaries, on the other it is desirable that the latter know how to involve female and male religious congregations and the Catholic organizations present in their territory in the planning and pastoral action. to make the work of the Church more timely and effective.
In the fight against trafficking, religious congregations are fulfilling their task of charismatic animation of the local Churches in an exemplary way. Your intuitions and pastoral initiatives have paved the way for an urgent and effective ecclesial response. However, I want to reiterate that "the journey of consecrated life, both female and male, is the path of ecclesial insertion" (Speech written at the XXI Plenary Assembly of the UISG, 10 May 2019). It is the path that the Holy Spirit has made: he is the Author of the "disorder" in the Church, with many charisms, and at the same time he is the Author of harmony in the Church. A journey of wealth. And this is being in the Church, with the gifts of the Holy Spirit: it is the freedom of the Spirit. And if any of you have doubts, take the Acts of the Apostles and see what creativity the Spirit has, when believers have the courage to leave the Synagogue, to go outside. "Outside the Church - of this Church - and in parallel with the local Church, things do not work" (ibid.). But this Church, rich in so many charisms, is the one that will give us strength.

Dear Sisters, I bless you and entrust your good intentions for the future to the Virgin Mary; and I assure you of a remembrance in prayer. And you too, do not forget to pray for me, because I need it. And I allow myself a final advice. Never end the day without thinking about the gaze of one of the victims you have known: this will be a beautiful prayer. Thanks.
FULL TEXT + Image Source: - Unofficial Translation 

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