Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita is occasion to examine "economy of exclusion" that allows for modern slavery, organizers say.
Human trafficking will be the subject of a “prayer marathon” on Monday, February 8, when the Roman Catholic Church commemorates a former slave who became a saint.
The online prayer vigil will include a video message from Pope Francis, who established the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking in 2015. The pope has called human trafficking a “plague” that everyone must play a part in helping to end.
The specific intention of the live-streamed vigil is for “an economy free of exploited, trafficked persons.”
“The trafficking of people is an integral part of an economy of exclusion, where the rules of the market are destroying the fundamental values of human coexistence based on respect for dignity but also on the protection of the environment,” said Comboni Sister Gabriella Bottani, coordinator of Talitha Kum, an international network of women and men religious fighting trafficking, according to a press release.
“The dominant economic model is one of the main structural causes of human trafficking in our globalized world,” said Sr. Bottani. She hopes that the seven-hour prayer marathon, which starts Monday at 4 a.m. Eastern Time, will promote “reflection for an economy that promotes life and dignified work for all.”
February 8 is the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, who was born in Sudan, kidnapped and sold into slavery when she was 10. Later purchased by an Italian consul, she was taken to Italy, where she became a Catholic and a religious sister. She died on February 8, 1947, and was canonized in 2000. She is the patron of Sudan and of victims of human trafficking.