Push on to get Trafficking Victims Protection Act reauthorized

Catholic Relief Services and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are urging Congress to reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act first passed in 2000.

The agencies teamed up under the Catholics Confront Global Poverty campaign to take their message to advocates across the country in a webcast Sept.28.

Last authorized in 2008, the act expires Sept. 30. But funding for programs aiding trafficking victims is expected to continue under a continuing resolution until a final vote in the both houses of Congress occurs in October.

Webcast participants were urged to call upon Congress to support another reauthorization. In the House of Representatives, the bills involved are HR 2830 and HR 2759. The companion bill in the Senate is S 1301.

“The politics have changed a lot since 2008,” said Jill Marie Gerschutz, senior legislative adviser to CRS, “so this is not a slam dunk even though one might think trafficking is an issue that must be overcome.”

CRS and the USCCB also want to see the bill add provisions to improve funding for anti-trafficking and victim assistance programs and boost screening at U.S. borders.

The webcast reviewed how people are trafficked for sexual slavery and forced labor. An estimated 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. annually, according to the Trafficking in Persons Report 2011 from the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Domestically, another 100,000 people are trafficked, largely in the sex trade with the highest caseloads in Florida, New York and the District of Columbia, the report said.

CRS has developed numerous resources for its website that can be used to by parishes, schools, organizations and advocacy groups to educate members about the moral issues stemming from human trafficking, a practice many have called modern day slavery.

Visiting Broadway soon? Stop in at St. Malachy’s — The Actors’ Chapel

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of Times Square in the heart of New York City, St. Malachy’s Church — The Actors’ Chapel is a haven of quiet and prayer. It is also an active parish where stars and ordinary New Yorkers (if any New Yorker can be called ordinary) rub shoulders throughout the week. The young, peripatetic pastor, Father Richard Baker, keeps the parish hopping with his formidable personality, lots of panache and great pastoral skill.

St. Malachy's pastor, Father Richard Baker. (CNS/Greg Shemitz)

St. Malachy’s is also home to the New York office of Catholic News Service.

CNS profiled the parish last December. Reporter Beth Griffin described the glitterati this way:

Established in 1902, St. Malachy’s gained fame as a spiritual home for members of the entertainment community, beginning in the 1920s. Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. were married at St. Malachy’s in 1929, and other notable worshippers included Rudolph Valentino, George M. Cohan, Spencer Tracy, Irene Dunne, Danny Thomas and Rosalind Russell. Fred Allen, Don Ameche, Cyril Ritchard and Jimmy Durante took their turns as altar servers.

This week, reporter Raphael Pallais of GloboMaestro, featured St. Malachy’s in this video. It’s a great slice of New York Catholic life.

Check it out, and stop in the next time you’re between Broadway shows.