February 8.  St Josephine Bakhita, patron of the fight against human trafficking.  By definition slavery is about lack of freedom and very often abusive treatment such as Josephine experienced as a child before she was bought by a caring family and taken to Italy. Slavery has existed from time immemorial and was essentially taken for granted until fairly recently. It was formally abolished internationally in the 19th century but reports claim that today there are more than 40 million people across the globe living in some form of slavery. In South Africa statistics state that there are ¼ million people in conditions of modern slavery and human trafficking inside and across borders remains a very serious problem. But lack of freedom is not only a crime against the human family, animals suffer too. Holding wild animals captive in atrocious conditions, poaching and killing are forms of slavery too. Adult rhinos are killed for their horns leaving baby rhinos defenceless.  Little scaly pangolins are poached too and eaten as a delicacy in some Far Eastern countries. They are believed to have been the vehicle that transmitted the coronavirus from animal to human.

St Josephine Bakhita Prayer:  At this time in our history, when migration is increasing, we confirm our faith in the God of life, telling Him our concerns through prayer:  “When we hear about boys, girls, men and women being deceived and taken to unknown places for sexual exploitation, forced labour and organ trade, our hearts feel indignation and our spirits suffer, because their dignity and rights are violated by threats, deceit and violence. Oh God, help us fight against all forms of slavery. Together with Saint Bakhita we ask you to put an end to human trafficking. Give us the wisdom and strength to be close to those who have been wounded in their body, heart and spirit, so that together we may reach the promise of life and tender and infinite love that you offer to our exploited brothers and sisters. Touch the hearts of those responsible for this serious crime and support our commitment to freedom, your gift for all your sons and daughters.   https://sma.ie/st-josephine-bakhita-from-slave-to-saint/   

Pope Francis:  A sense of communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings.   It is inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered animal and plant species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor or undertaking to destroy another human being seen as unwanted.  LS91.  Reflect, share, act and pray.