Marking the feast of St Josephine Bakhita, a former slave, Pope Francis urged Christians to help victims of human trafficking and migrants, especially the Rohingya people being chased from Myanmar.
For the Catholic Church, St Bakhita’s feast day, on 8th February, is a day of prayer for victims of trafficking.
Pope Francis asked government officials around the world to “decisively combat this plague” of human trafficking, paying particular attention to trafficking in children. “Every effort must be made to eradicate this shameful and intolerable crime.”
Describing St Bakhita as a “young woman who was enslaved in Africa, exploited, humiliated,” Pope Francis said she never gave up hope and, finally, she was able to migrate to Europe.
Holding up a booklet with a photograph of the Sudanese saint, who died in Italy in 1947, the pope continued telling her story. In Europe, he said, “she heard the call of the Lord and became a nun,” joining the Canossian Daughters of Charity.
“Let us pray to St Josephine Bakhita for all migrants and refugees who are exploited and suffer so much,” the pope said.
Picture: Pope Francis looks on during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican on 8th February. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).