(Vatican Radio) The National Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Brazil (Cnbb) on Ash Wednesday launched the 2014 Brotherhood Campaign, focusing this year on the theme “Brotherhood and human trafficking”.
The motto that has been chosen is “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal 5,1).
The launch of the Campaign which is at its 51st edition, was presided over by Secretary General of the Cnbb and Auxiliary Bishop of Brasilia, Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, with the participation of representatives of the Government, civil society and religious communities.
The Campaign foresees a series of initiatives aimed towards raising awareness, formation and prayer to enable a better understanding of the phenomenon of human trafficking and to prepare “pastoral agents” who will be able to act as “antennae” within communities who are committed to the fight against human trafficking.
According to the Walk Free Foundation NGO, in Brazil alone there are at least 200 thousand people living in slavery.
Pope Francis has sent a letter of participation and encouragement for the launch of the Campaign:
Please find below Vatican Radio’s translation of the Pope’s letter:
Thinking back to your great hearts and to the warm welcome you gave me when I visited your country last July, I now ask permission to accompany you in the Lenten journey that begins on March 5, speaking to you about the “Campanha da Fraternidade” (Brotherhood Campaign) that reminds you of the victory of Easter: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free”” (Gal 5,1). With his Passion, Death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ freed humanity from death and from sin. During the next forty days we will try to be more aware of the infinite charity that God has given us and has asked us to give to others, especially to those who are more in need: “You are free! Go and help your brothers to be free as well!” In this sense, wanting to mobilize Christians and people of goodwill in Brazilian society against the social scourge of human trafficking, our brothers, the Brazilian bishops propose as a theme this year “Brotherhood and human trafficking”.
It is impossible to remain indifferent when one learns that there are human beings who are bought and sold like merchandise! Think of the adoption of children destined to be sold for organ transplants, of women who are deceived and forced into prostitution, of workers without rights or a voice who exploited, etc. This is human trafficking. “It is precisely on this level that we need to make a good examination of conscience: how many times have we permitted a human being to be seen as an object, to be put on show in order to sell a product or to satisfy an immoral desire? The human person ought never to be sold or bought as if he or she were a commodity. Whoever uses human persons in this way and exploits them, even if indirectly, becomes an accomplice of this injustice.” (Address to New Ambassadors, 12, XII 2013). And if we go to the family level and enter a home, how often does abuse reign! Parents who enslave their children, children who abuse their parents; spouses who forget their promises and use each other as if they were consumable goods, goods to be used and thrown away; old people with no place in society and children and adolescents with no voice. How many attacks against the basic values that constitute the fabric of family life and of social cohabitation! Yes, there is the need for a good examination of conscience. How can we announce the joy of Easter without showing support towards those who are deprived of their freedom on this earth?
Dear Brazilians, you can be sure: if I offend the dignity of others it is because I have sold my own dignity at a cheaper price. Why have I done so? To obtain power, fame, material goods… and all of this – you will be amazed! – in exchange for my dignity as a son and a daughter of God, saved at the cost of the blood of Christ on the Cross and guaranteed by the Holly Spirit who calls out: “Abbà, Father!” (Gal 4,6). Human dignity is the same for all human beings: when I tread on the dignity of another, I tread on my own. It is the freedom for which Christ has set us free! Last year when I spent time with you, I said the Brazilian people were giving a lesson in solidarity; certain of this, I hope that Christians and people of goodwill may commit themselves to work so that no man, woman, young person or child will ever again be a victim of human trafficking. It is the most effective base to re-establish human dignity and proclaim Christ’s Gospel in the countryside and in the cities, because Jesus desires to pour out an abundance of life everywhere (Evangelii gaudium, 75).
With this I invoke the protection of the Highest upon all Brazilians so that new life in Christ reach them in the freedom of the children of the Glory of God (Rm 8,21), arousing in every heart sentiments of tenderness and compassion for our brothers and sisters who need to be freed, and I send you my Apostolic Blessing.