Pray for victims of human trafficking

The U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration has asked the faithful to join them in a day of prayer for survivors and victims of human trafficking on Feb. 8.

Feb. 8 is the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery.“On that day we will lift our voices loudly in prayer, hope and love for trafficking victims and survivors,” said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the committee. “If just one person realizes from this day that they or someone they know is being trafficked, we will have made a difference.”

Feb. 8 is the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery in Sudan and Italy. Once freed, she dedicated her life to sharing her testament of deliverance from slavery and comforting the poor and suffering.

The bishops encourage Catholics to host or attend prayer services to pray for emotional, physical and spiritual healing for victims; reflect on the experiences of those who have suffered from human trafficking and exploitation; make a personal commitment to work against human trafficking; and consider hosting awareness events to educate others on the subject.

For more information about the bishops’ anti-trafficking program formed to rescue and aid victims, visit www.usccb.org/about/anti-trafficking-program. It was established to advocate for better protection for victims, provide training and technical assistance to service providers, and educates the public on the prevalence of human trafficking.

In Colorado, a state with reportedly the highest rate per capita of sex slavery, help is available through the Colorado Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-866-455-5075 or the Prax(us) confidential local hotline at 303-317-7009. For more information, see story in the Jan. 29 Denver Catholic Register (http://denvercatholicregister.org/nowhere-turn/) : “Nowhere to turn.”

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.


Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash