Wednesday, February 01, 2006
February Prayer Intentions  


General - That the International Community may be ever more aware of the urgent duty to bring an end to the trafficking in human beings.
In 1877 a nine-year old girl was kidnapped by slave traders in Sudan, Africa. As a cruel joke she was given the name "Bakhita" or "the Fortunate One." Eventually she was purchased by an Italian diplomat and taken to Italy where she was freed and became a nun, taking the name Sister Josephine Bakhita. She died in 1947 and was canonized in 2000.

We may think that the buying and selling of human beings is a thing of the past. It isn’t. According to the International Labor Organization at least 2.4 million people are victims of human trafficking every year. In a report issued earlier this year, Fides, the Vatican missionary news agency, stated that more than a million children are victims of trafficking in what has become a $1.2 billion business.

Human trafficking is a reality in the United States. According to a 2005 State Department report, 14,000 to 17,000 victims are transported into this country every year. Since 2003 the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has made 5,400 arrests and obtained 2,300 convictions in cases of human trafficking. Last year alone the ICE seized nearly $27 million from human smugglers and trafficking organizations.

Clearly, human trafficking is a grave national and international problem. We ought to become more aware of this crime which dehumanizes our brothers and sisters. And we ought to do all we can to prevent and stop it. The Second Vatican Council condemned this evil in Gaudiem et Spes #27, saying that "whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children … where people are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed." The human person is made in God’s image and likeness and is never to be treated as an object for pleasure or for profit.

We cannot ignore this evil. We must confront human trafficking and the root causes that lead people into a servitude that they never imagined. Let us ask St. Josephine Bakhita, herself a victim of human trafficking and whose feast we celebrate on February 8, to intercede for all those people who share her fate today. May the victims be released and experience healing of the degradation they have suffered. May the traffickers be converted. And may we, with St. Josephine Bakhita’s help, do all we can to become more aware of this grave problem and to challenge our nation and other countries to fight it.
Missionary - That in the Missions the lay faithful may recognize the need to serve their own country with greater commitment in its political and social life.
The primary focus of the vocation of lay people is the world. Lay people are called to be a leaven in society. Through their active participation in political life and in social issues, lay people are called to help make society more humane and just. In fact, the health of both society and the Church depends upon this active involvement of lay people in the social issues and politics of their countries. This is particularly true in mission countries that are often part of what is called "the developing world." The Vatican Council II document on the Missions, Ad Gentes, states in section 21:

The Church has not been really founded, and is not yet fully alive, nor is it a perfect sign of Christ among men, unless there is a laity worthy of the name working along with the hierarchy. For the Gospel cannot be deeply grounded in the abilities, life and work of any people without the active presence of laymen. Therefore, even at the very founding of a Church, great attention is to be paid to establishing a mature, Christian laity.

Lay people must take ever more seriously their call to transform the world. Following a Synod of Bishops which discussed the vocation of the laity, Pope John Paul II issued Christifideles Laici. In sections 42 and 43 he wrote about how essential it is for lay Catholics to be involved in the social and political life of their nations:

In order to achieve their task directed to the Christian animation of the temporal order, in the sense of serving persons and society, the lay faithful are never to relinquish their participation in "public life", that is, in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas, which are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good. The Synod Fathers have repeatedly affirmed that every person has a right and duty to participate in public life, albeit in a diversity and complementarity of forms, levels, tasks and responsibilities...

[T]he lay faithful must bear witness to those human and gospel values that are intimately connected with political activity itself, such as liberty and justice, solidarity, faithful and unselfish dedication for the good of all, a simple life-style, and a preferential love for the poor and the least. This demands that the lay faithful always be more animated by a real participation in the life of the Church and enlightened by her social doctrine...

In the context of the transformations taking place in the world of economy and work which are a cause of concern, the lay faithful have the responsibility of being in the forefront in working out a solution to the very serious problems of growing unemployment; to fight for the most opportune overcoming of numerous injustices that come from organizations of work which lack a proper goal; to make the workplace become a community of persons respected in their uniqueness and in their right to participation; to develop new solidarity among those that participate in a common work; to raise up new forms of entrepreneurship and to look again at systems of commerce, finance and exchange of technology. To such an end the lay faithful must accomplish their work with professional competence, with human honesty, and with a Christian spirit, and especially as a way of their own sanctification...

It is within the world that lay people live out their vocation and become holy. It is very important that all lay people, but especially those in mission countries where the Gospel is not as well known, work to create conditions that make their countries more receptive to values that are rooted in the Gospel—human dignity and rights. In this way they will fulfill their baptismal call and responsibility and the society in which they live will become more humane and just.

Pope Benedict has recently echoed the challenge of both Vatican II and John Paul II. In his first encyclical Deus Caritas Est he wrote:

The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society…is proper to the lay faithful. As citizens of the State, they are called to take part in public life in a personal capacity. So they cannot relinquish their participation "in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas, which are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good" (Christifideles Laici #42). The mission of the lay faithful is therefore to configure social life correctly…. [I]t still remains true that charity must animate the entire lives of the lay faithful and therefore also their political activity, lived as "social charity" (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1939).


For all those who share their abortion testimonies through the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.
Charnette and Tom Messe and their children were guests on some of our recent television shows. Tom, a medical doctor in the Navy, has successfully defended his right to refuse to administer contraceptives. Charnette is part of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, and speaks about how her abortion led to breast cancer. Her son was in her womb while she had chemotherapy, and is as healthy as can be. See Charnette’s testimony (and many others) at Source

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