24 International News

posted Aug 1, 2018, 8:41 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 1, 2018, 8:41 AM ]

July 30: World Day against Trafficking in Persons

Pope Francis and the Holy See continue to press for an end to the horrendous practice of human trafficking. July 30, 2018 was marked as World Day against Trafficking in Persons; the day is promoted by the United Nations. Pope Francis noted it after praying the noonday Angelus on July 29, 2018, with a crowd of 25,000 pilgrims in St Peter's Square:

"This plague reduces many men, women and children to slavery for the purpose of labour and sexual exploitation, the sale of organs, of vagrancy and forced delinquency, also here in Rome. Migration routes are often used by traffickers and exploiters to recruit new victims of trafficking. It's the responsibility of all to denounce the injustice and to oppose firmly this shameful crime."

Human trafficking is a crime that exploits women, children, and men for numerous purposes, including forced labour and sex, according to the United Nations. The International Labour Organization estimates that 21 million people are victims of forced labour globally. This estimate also includes victims of human trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation. While it is not known how many of these victims were trafficked, the estimate implies that currently, there are millions of trafficking victims in the world.

Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit, or destination for victims, the UN claims. Children make up almost a third of all human trafficking victims worldwide, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. Additionally, women and girls comprise 71 per cent of human trafficking victims, the report states. 


Meeting on abandoned churches

The Vatican has convened a conference on November 29-30 to study what to do with abandoned churches. It affects hundreds of sanctuaries, some of which have great religious and artistic significance.

Fr Valerio Pennasso, of the Italian Episcopal Conference, said, "The goal is for dioceses to understand the current conditions of their assets, their churches, to study the role they can have in ordinary pastoral care and how to act little by little to restore the most useful and important ones."


Cardinal Marto: Our greatest enemy is religious indifference

Cardinal Antonio Marto welcomed to his city of Fatima two popes: Pope Benedict XVI in 2006, and Pope Francis last year. But he says that those who have most influenced him in his life are his parents and his parish priest.

"I was born in a Catholic family, of deep faith: simple parents, but with a deep faith. My parish priest was a point of reference for me, and I wanted to be a priest like him."


For indigenous in Amazon, Pope is great spiritual father

During his visit to Peru in January, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the indigenous populations of the Amazon. "Allow me to state that if, for some, you are viewed as an obstacle or a hindrance, in reality, your lives cry out against a style of life that is oblivious to its own real cost. You are a living memory of the mission that God has entrusted to us all: the protection of our common home."

Now, in preparation for a 2019 synod that will focus on the region, the Church has enlisted the help of local entities to gather insights. One of them is the Panamazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM), which has convened 45 territorial assemblies across nine countries. Representing a region that is widely overlooked, REPAM has been tasked with acting as a liaison between the Vatican and indigenous people.


Two Indians among Magsaysay Award winners

Two Indians are among six winners of this year's Ramon Magsaysay Award, Asia's counterpart to the Nobel Peace Prize. The award winners were announced on July 26 in Manila, capital of the Philippines.

The Indian awardees are Bharat Vatwani, a psychiatrist who has spent nearly 30 years among mentally ill people after an encounter with a schizophrenic on a Mumbai street, and Sonam Wangchuk, an education reformist who has helped young people in Ladakh to improve their life opportunities.

Other winners are Youk Chhang from Cambodia, Maria de Lourdes Martins Cruz from East Timor, Howard Dee from the Philippines and Vo Thi Hoang Yen from Vietnam. The Cambodian has spent his life chronicling the horrific, genocidal reign of the Pol Pot regime in the late 1970s.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation President Carmencita Abella said the winners "are clearly Asia's heroes of hope, moving their societies forward through their unequivocal pursuit of the larger good. In genuine solidarity with the disadvantaged and marginalised, each one has addressed real and complex issues with bold, creative and pragmatic action that has engaged others to do likewise. The results of their leadership are manifest in the changed lives of the many they have influenced," she said.