Today, we honor Saint Bakhita, the patron saint of victims of human trafficking.I join you in celebrating this day, the Ninth World Day of Prayer and Reflection against Trafficking in Human Beings, whose theme is walk with dignity And mobilize young people to become protagonists.
I say to you especially, young people: I encourage you to take care of yourselves and the dignity of everyone you meet.I know you picked a theme walk with dignity. This is very important: it shows that your commitment to combating human trafficking has a broad outlook: human dignity. In this way you contribute to keeping hope alive; I also increase joy, and I invite you to keep this joy in your hearts with the Word of God, for true joy is Christ!
Human trafficking is demeaning. Exploitation and subjugation limit freedom and make man an object to be used and discarded. The trafficking system benefits from injustice and inequity, forcing millions of people to live in vulnerable conditions. Indeed, people impoverished by economic crisis, war, climate change and so much upheaval are easily recruited. Tragically, human trafficking is growing in worrying ways, primarily affecting immigrants, women and children, young people like you, people with dreams and a desire to live in dignity.
We know we are living in difficult times, but it is in this reality that all of us, especially young people, are called to join forces to weave the web of beauty and spread the light of Christ and his Gospel. On these days, the lamp will be symbolically handed over to young people who come to Rome, representing organizations that have worked together over the years, for a day of prayer and commitment to fight human trafficking. In this gesture, you are sent as missionaries of human dignity against human trafficking and all forms of exploitation. This marks the beginning of a special year of youth engagement until the second day of 2024. Keep this light and you will be a blessing to other young people. Never tire of finding ways to change our society and prevent this shameful scourge of human trafficking.
Act with dignity, against human trafficking, and leave no one behind. I would like to quote some of the beautiful expressions you wrote: “Walk with eyes wide open, recognizing the processes that lead to millions of people, especially young people, being trafficked for brutal exploitation. Walk with an attentive heart, to discover And support the journey of freedom and dignity every day. Walking with hope in our feet to promote anti-trafficking action. Walking hand in hand, supporting each other to build a culture of encounter, which leads to spiritual transformation and inclusive society, able to protect the rights and dignity of everyone “.
I hope many will accept your invitation to stand together against human trafficking: with those devastated by the violence of sexual and labor exploitation; with migrants, displaced persons, and those who are looking for a place to live in peace with their families. Join you, young people, in courageously reaffirming the value of human dignity.
I thank you and I say to you: go forward bravely! Go ahead! May the Lord bless you, and may Our Lady bless you. May Holy Bakhita be with us and pray for us. My best wishes with all my heart as you work to combat human trafficking and everyone you meet on this journey of dignity. Thanks!