Guide brings trafficking awareness to pews

 — Nov. 20, 202220 nov. 2022

The Archdiocese of Vancouver is teaming up with the Dioceses of Victoria and Saskatoon to unveil the Working Towards Freedom study guide, a resource designed for clergy, parish groups and individual congregants to learn more about human trafficking.

Two webinars, scheduled for Nov. 24 and Nov. 26, will launch this new resource, which will examine the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 2021 Pastoral Letter on Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation in Canada.

Myron Rogal, coordinator of the Diocese of Saskatoon’s office of justice and peace, said the guide explores the messages and themes of the letter more in-depth.

“This letter really brought us down to that level of education and awareness,” said Rogal. “We thought we could disseminate that further at the parish and diocesan level, and apply it towards some education, awareness and advocacy at the local level. We were inspired by the document and we wanted to open it up more and make it more accessible to the people in our dioceses, and across our country and beyond.”

Working Towards Freedom is divided into four sections with each following the learning model of see, learn, pray, act. Individuals are invited to complete the study activities, but this document is primarily envisioned to “bring people together in dialogue in local parishes and other community settings.”

Unit one of the document, for example, delves into defining human trafficking and reflecting on what Catholic social teaching says about trafficking. The “see” activity of this segment asks participants to review the Vatican’s Migrants and Refugees Section’s Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking. The “learn” encourages attendees to watch videos from Fr. Fred Kammer, SJ, and American Bishop Robert Barron about dignity of the human person, and also to view how Catholic social teaching interconnects with current law, specifically the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA).

The “pray” component is praying the beatitudes and considering how to live them today., while the “act” encourages readers to share what they have learned with family and friends, and to teach children, nephews and nieces, etc., about the true meaning of consent, the danger of online trafficking and pornography.

Many misconceptions about the nature of human trafficking exist throughout Canada and the world. Working Towards Freedom seeks to provide enlightenment, said Rogal.

“The number one thing we want to share is that (trafficking) happens everywhere across Canada from tiny towns to big cities and from the Prairies to the east coast,” he said. “It is so prevalent. It also doesn’t happen to one socioeconomic group. There are certain things that make women and girls more vulnerable, but it does happen across the spectrum.

“Another misconception that we see is the assumption that (trafficking) happens overnight where someone might come into your home to coerce and force you. In actuality, most of the bondage isn’t physical — women aren’t enchained in basements for the most part — it is psychological imprisonment. And most of it happens online.”

Statistics Canada announced in June that human trafficking incidents reported by the police declined from 546 to 515, but the authors of the report, who work for the Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics, admitted that the increased online nature of this crime due to the COVID-19 pandemic would lead to incidents “more likely going undetected” when they did occur.

Other reasons why it is difficult to deduce the full scope of human trafficking in Canada include language barriers, a lack of health care, inadequate law enforcement training, victims’ fear and shame, a desire to protect their trafficker and distrust of authorities.

Delving into Working Towards Freedom also provides a forum for participants to learn about St. Josephine Bahkita (1869-1947), who was born into a family of six in Darfur, Sudan. Her happy childhood was dashed at nine years old when she was kidnapped from a field and forced into slavery, two years after an older sister was abducted.

Bahkita survived and came to know God herself, becoming a model of simplicity, prayer and service. She was canonized in 2000. Her feast day is Feb. 8, which is also the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking.

Rogal said one hopeful impact of people engaging with the study guide is for there to be a heightened awareness of the PCEPA and enhanced efforts to advocate for this legislation to remain intact. He said decriminalization of prostitution and sex work in countries like New Zealand and legalization in countries like Germany has led to a spike in trafficking.

He also awaits to see how groups and individuals manifest their own actions to combat human trafficking in the weeks and months to come.

“What we would hope for is for people to listen, take seriously and put into action how God might be calling them specifically on this challenge moving forward. It could be that they are doing some political advocacy work with some of the tentative changes that could come on the legal landscape, it could be someone educating their children more or someone urging their parish to pray about this more. We are hoping for an outpouring of these individualized responses.”

To view the guide, see Information about the webinars can be found by visiting the Saskatoon, Vancouver or Victoria diocesan websites.

Posted: Nov. 20, 2022 • Permanent link:
Categories: Catholic RegisterIn this article: Catholic, human trafficking, social justice
Transmis : 20 nov. 2022 • Lien permanente :
Catégorie : Catholic RegisterDans cet article : Catholic, human trafficking, social justice

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