TRAFFICKING IN HUMANS IS “MAJOR CHALLENGE OF OUR TIMES,” SAYS POPE

TRAFFICKING IN HUMANS IS “MAJOR CHALLENGE OF OUR TIMES,” SAYS POPE

This morning in the Consistory Hall Pope Francis received around a hundred members of the Santa Marta Group on the occasion of the third Conference of this international organization against human trafficking.

Launched in 2014 by Pope Francis and chaired by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster, the Santa Marta Group is composed of police chiefs, bishops, religious sisters and representatives from civil society, and aims to forge relationships of trust between police and the Church, especially religious sisters, enabling this crime to be defeated and the victims to be accompanied, assisted, and ultimately reintegrated into society.

At a concluding press conference Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, one of the founding members of the group, and two survivors of human trafficking spoke of the progress that has been made over the past couple of years. (photo L’Osservatore Romano)

trafficking

Pope Francis, in his words to the group, described trafficking as “one of the major challenges of our time” and he praised participants for the important contribution they’re making to end this scourge of modern slavery.

The number of victims, he noted, keeps growing year by year and it’s essential both to support victims of trafficking, but also to tackle the complex problems that lead to their exploitation.

“Dear friends, I thank you and I encourage you to continue in your efforts. The Lord will know how to compensate for what is done to the least in today’s society. ‘I was hungry, I was thirsty’, and you helped me; Today He could also say, ‘I was abused, exploited, enslaved’, and you came to my aid. I continue to accompany you with my closeness and my prayer. And you too, please, pray for me.”

Cardinal Nichols told journalists the group had presented the Pope with the a report of positive developments in the 30 countries that are now part of the Santa Marta process.

Above all perhaps, what this report shows is that human slavery and trafficking is not so hidden as it used to be. There is an increasing awareness that this, in the phrase of the Holy Father, is an open wound in the flesh of humanity, and that voices that were once completely hidden are now being heard”.

Those voices include that of Nigerian survivor Princess Inyang, who was trafficked into Italy in 1999 and forced into prostitution, until she was able to escape, with help from a priest working in the northern city of Asti. She shared her story at the conference and called for deportation of the traffickers, as well as more education and skills training for vulnerable girls in her home country…

The women are vulnerable because of the poverty in Nigeria, the background of the polygamy system of the families, the non-employment, and now we know that the traffickers go into the rural areas to get these young women because of their serious problems”.

Another survivor, who also works to help others avoid the traffickers, is former Premier League player Al Bangura, originally from Sierra Leone. A keen footballer from an early age, he was tricked into going to England with promises of a dream career. He managed to escape the traffickers and now serves as ambassador for a UK based charity called Sport for Freedom.

With everything I’ve been through, I want to be out there to share my story, to educate kids and talk to parents who’re desperate for their kids to achieve….we also work with the Premiership… to make sure the kids are going in the rights direction and make sure we stop this slavery thing.”

Before the conference, Bishop Denis Brennan of Ferns said, “At the first meeting of the Santa Marta Group in 2014 Pope Francis called for ‘the adoption of an effective strategy against human trafficking, so that in every part of the world, men and women may no longer be used as a means to an end, and that their inviolable dignity may always be respected.’  For such a strategy to work, all sections of Irish society have a role to play in confronting the secretive and pernicious activities of human trafficking and modern slavery.”

He also noted, continued, “Especially through our two key councils, for immigrants and for justice and peace, as well as with our aid agency Trócaire, Irish bishops are committed to raising awareness about this challenging and dreadful crime which targets the most vulnerable sector in our society.  The Santa Marta Group represents an opportunity to further develop the partnership work of the Church and law enforcement agencies that are engaged in tackling these issues both in Ireland and at the international level.

From Africa to Latin America, from Asia to Europe, the U.S. and the Middle East, the conference heard many encouraging stories of success in combatting the trade in people for prostitution, forced labour or sale of their body parts. But as their report also underlines, there is much frustration too, coupled with a renewed determination to work more effectively together for an end to what Pope Francis himself describes as a “crime against humanity.” (sources; news.va, Vatican Radio, CCN)

FIRST CATHOLIC SERVICE IN CHAPEL ROYAL IN 450 YEARS

FIRST CATHOLIC SERVICE IN CHAPEL ROYAL IN 450 YEARS

(VR) Cardinal Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster, last night presided at Vespers in the Chapel Royal of Hampton Court Palace for the first Catholic service to be held there in over 450 years. The Anglican bishop of London, Richard Chartres, preached the sermon at vespers, which was preceded by a conversation between the two Church leaders, focusing on the history and unique musical tradition of the Chapel Royal.

The world renowned ensemble, “The Sixteen,” which specializes in early English polyphonic music, performed works from the Reformation period, highlighting how – in the cardinal’s words – “music can help us rediscover our roots and shared heritage”.

CARDINAL NICHOLS - VESPERS

Before the event, Cardinal Vincent Nichols spoke to Vatican Radio’s Philippa Hitchen about the religious, historical and musical significance of this historic event.

Like much of English history, the cardinal says, this event has a complicated origin. Partly it is inspired by the forthcoming 500th anniversary of the Reformation, partly it stems from a desire to find a fitting setting to explore the music of the period, and partly it is because Bishop Chartres is also Dean of the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court.

Chapel Royal captures ‘fluidity’ of Reformation period

Cardinal Nichols noted that the music was chosen to fit the history of the Chapel Royal, featuring composers like Thomas Tallis who “lived through all the turbulence of the Reformation of 1535” and the subsequent decades during which, he says, the situation in England was “quite porous and quite subtle.” Tallis and others wrote both Catholic and Anglican music and in many ways, said the cardinal, “the Chapel Royal captures the fluidity and ambiguity of the age”.

 

GOOD FRIDAY COLLECTION FOR CHURCH IN THE HOLY LAND – KING RICHARD III TO BE RE-INTERED IN LEICESTER CATHEDRAL

Just two news stories for today, one from the Vatican and the second from the Catholic Church in England and Wales – a fascinating bit of news.

GOOD FRIDAY COLLECTION FOR CHURCH IN THE HOLY LAND

(Vatican Radio) Parishes across the world year after year take up the traditional annual Good Friday Collection for the Church in the Holy Land. This year is no different and the prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, has written a letter to all pastors of the Universal Church in which he expresses the gratitude of Pope Francis, of his dicastery and of all the Churches “in the land of Christ” for their attention and generous response to the Collection.

The proceeds from the Good Friday Collection go to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. The Franciscans have been caring for the holy sites there since 1209. They also assist the poor, run schools, provide scholarships, and conduct pastoral ministries to keep Christianity alive in the land where it originated.

The Collection is still today the principal source that sustains the life and works of the region’s Christians. It helps Christians of many denominations remain in the region as living witnesses to Christ.

In his appeal to Catholics to donate generously this Good Friday, Cardinal Sandri noted that  “there are millions of refugees fleeing Syria and Iraq, where the roar of arms does not cease and the way of dialogue and concord seems completely lost. … This year presents a still more precious opportunity to become pilgrims of faith after the example of the Holy Father, who in May last year visited this patch of land, so dear to Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. It is a chance to become promoters of dialogue through peace, prayer and sharing of burdens.”

KING RICHARD III TO BE RE-INTERED IN LEICESTER CATHEDRAL

Press statement by the Catholic Diocese of Nottingham:.

On Monday, 23rd March 2015, just three days before Richard III is re-interred in Leicester Cathedral, the mediaeval Catholic parish church of Leicester, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, will celebrate Mass for the repose of his soul in Holy Cross Church, the current Catholic parish church and Dominican priory in Leicester city centre.

In order that as many people as possible can be accommodated safely and the liturgy celebrated in a dignified manner, admission to this Mass will be by ticket only; the ballot for tickets is now closed, and successful applicants will be notified within the next few days.

The following day, Tuesday 24th March, Mass will be offered for the repose of the soul of Richard III in Holy Cross Church by the Dominican friars at 4.00 pm. This Mass will be open to the public, and no tickets are required. After Mass, the friars will process through the city centre to Leicester Cathedral, where they will sing Vespers, the Catholic Church’s evening service, at 5.30 pm.

Msgr. Thomas McGovern, the Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Nottingham, said: “We very much look forward to welcoming Cardinal Nichols to Leicester this month for the Mass which he will celebrate in Holy Cross Church in advance of the re-interment of Richard III, one of the last Catholic kings of England, in the city in which he was buried in 1485.”

Father David Rocks, OP, Prior and Parish Priest of Holy Cross Priory, said: “The Dominicans of Holy Cross Priory are looking forward to welcoming people from across the world to our beautiful church during the week when Richard III will be re-interred here in Leicester. More people than we could have ever hoped for have been in touch to ask for tickets for the Mass which Cardinal Nichols will celebrate on Monday 23rd March, which is why we are pleased to announce another celebration of Mass on Tuesday 24th March, before the friars depart for Leicester Cathedral to sing Vespers in the presence of the mortal remains of Richard III. No tickets will be required for this Mass, and everyone is welcome to come along.”