Notes on Peace and Justice

Index identifies 29.8 million people in modern slavery

Global Slavery Index 2013_Page_001 (596x842)Slavery still exists around the world on an almost unimaginable scale, according to a study from the Walk Free Foundation.

The Global Slavery Index reported that an estimated 29.8 million people were trafficked in some type of forced labor or the money-for-sex trade during 2013.

The U.S. State Department’s 2013 Trafficking in Persons report estimated that 27 million people are trafficked annually.

The index, the first in what the foundation hopes will be an annual assessment, ranks 162 countries by measuring the estimated prevalence of modern slavery by population, child marriage and human trafficking in and out of a country.

Founded in 2012, Walk Free works to end human trafficking by involving political and business leaders and advocates to produce quality research and raising significant funds to bring change in countries and industries bearing the greatest responsibility for modern slavery.

India holds the dubious distinction of having nearly 14 million people being held against their will, the highest number in the world.

The nine countries next in line include China (2.9 million), Pakistan (2.1 million), Nigeria (701,000), Ethiopia (651,000), Russia (516,000), Thailand (472,000), Congo (462,000), Myanmar (384,000) and Bangladesh (343,000), the index reported. Together, the 10 nations account for 76 percent of all people being trafficked and enslaved, the report said.

The index was referenced in the April issue of the Stop Trafficking! newsletter of the Bakhita Initiative, U.S. Catholic sisters united against human trafficking. About 70 congregations of women religious sponsor the initiative.

The newsletter is a valuable resource for anyone concerned about human trafficking.

The April issue also included a report on fair trade products and how average people can promote labor fairness through their purchases of goods and services.


Issue of humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons gets more attention

Despite not being on the front pages every day, nuclear weapons continue to pose a threat to the world, said participants at a daylong interfaith symposium at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington

Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International was among the participants. She told CNS the April 24 event highlighted growing perspectives on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, a concern that has largely been overlooked as the world’s nuclear powers have kept the focus on national security and deterrence.

“It’s important to shift the conversation. The conversation has been controlled by the nuclear weapons states,” Dennis said from the United Nations, where she was attending the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee meeting running through May 9.

Sponsored by the Buddhist association Soka Gakkai International, the symposium brought together faith leaders, peace activists and policy experts to identify common concerns and recommit to work to abolish nuclear weapons.

Before adjourning, representatives of 11 faith groups adopted a resolution pledging increased activism toward the abolition of nuclear weapons and sent to the preparatory committee.


Resources for St. Francis Education Program on climate change on the way

It’s not too early to begin thinking about the fall and the observance of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi and connect his love of the environment to Catholic teaching.

The Catholic Climate Covenant, formerly the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, is preparing resources for its St. Francis Education Program that will encourage students of all ages as well as interested adults to take steps to protect God’s creation.

“This year we want to link that feast day to the witness and life of St. Francis as we celebrate the 35th anniversary of him being named the patron saint of those who promote ecology and Pope Francis’ charisma and mind as his papacy unfolds,” said Dan Misleh, covenant executive director.

“And we want to encourage people to act likewise — to live their faith to model what St. Francis has done and what the pope is saying,” he said.

The effort will focus on the themes “From St. Francis to Pope Francis to You! Creating a Climate for Solidarity.” It will include video testimonials with an opportunity for group discussion to explore the effects of climate change on poor and vulnerable people around the world.

Misleh said each program will be offered free in versions for parish groups, youth and college students in both English and Spanish. Programs will carry over into Earth Day observances April 22, 2015 and the saint’s feast later that year.

Information is available online and by email at


All work and no pray…

st. joseph worker

May 1 is the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, who is depicted in this mosaic at Galway Cathedral in Ireland. (CNS photo/Crosiers)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has a special devotion to St. Joseph — as the earthly father of Jesus and as a worker.

To help celebrate this feast of St. Joseph the Worker, here are a few snippets of some of the many things the pope has said about the importance of work and dignified working conditions.


On work as dignity:

“Work means dignity, work means taking food home, work means loving!”

Meeting with workers and the unemployed in Cagliari, Sardinia,  Sept. 22, 2013

“Work is part of God’s loving plan, we are called to cultivate and care for all the goods of creation and in this way share in the work of creation! …It gives one the ability to maintain oneself, one’s family, to contribute to the growth of one’s nation.”

General Audience in St. Peter’s Square,  May 1, 2013

On the problem of  ‘an economy of exclusion:’

“Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel #53, Nov. 24, 2013


Pope Francis wearing a hard hat during an audience with pilgrims from Terni Diocese in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall March 20, 2014. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

On the problem of unemployment: 

“It is the consequence of an economic system which is no longer capable of creating work, because it has placed an idol at the center that is called money!

Therefore, the various political, social and economic entities are called to promote a different approach based on justice and solidarity. This word now risks being removed from the dictionary. Solidarity: it seems like a dirty word! No! Solidarity is important, but this system is not very fond of it, it prefers to exclude it.

Such human solidarity should ensure that everyone have the possibility to carry out a dignified form of work. Work is a good for everyone and it needs to be available for everyone. …Solidarity requires that all members of society renounce something and adopt a more sober lifestyle to help all those who are in need.”

Audience with Italian steelworkers at the Vatican,  March 20, 2014


On the need for ‘enlightened’ politicians:

“I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor! It is vital that government leaders and financial leaders take heed and broaden their horizons, working to ensure that all citizens have dignified work, education and healthcare. Why not turn to God and ask him to inspire their plans?

I am firmly convinced that openness to the transcendent can bring about a new political and economic mindset which would help to break down the wall of separation between the economy and the common good of society.”

Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel #205, Nov. 24, 2013

wall street

Wall Street sign outside the New York Stock Exchange in 2008. (CNS photo/Lucas Jackson, Reuters)

On the need for a new global approach:

“I am convinced that from such an openness to the transcendent a new political and business mentality can take shape, one capable of guiding all economic and financial activity within the horizon of an ethical approach which is truly humane.

The international business community can count on many men and women of great personal honesty and integrity, whose work is inspired and guided by high ideals of fairness, generosity and concern for the authentic development of the human family.”

Message to World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 17, 2014

On the need for action:

Pope Francis asked the factory owners to be creative and generous in finding ways “to reignite hope in the hearts of these brothers of ours and in the hearts of everyone who is unemployed because of waste and the economic crisis.”

“Please,” the pope said to business owners, “open your eyes and don’t just stand there with your arms crossed.”

General Audience address, April 23, 2014

On the pope’s experience:

“I am very familiar with this situation because of my experience in Argentina. I myself was spared it but my family wasn’t. My father went to Argentina as a young man full of illusions ‘of making it in America.’ And he suffered in the dreadful recession of the 1930s. They lost everything! There was no work! And in my childhood I heard talk of this period at home. …I never saw it, I had not yet been born, but I heard about this suffering at home, I heard talk of it. I know it well.”

Meeting with workers, unemployed in Cagliari, Sardinia,  Sept. 22, 2013

The pope’s work experience as a young man includes: sweeping floors in a factory; running tests in a chemical laboratory; working as a bouncer; and teaching high school literature and psychology.


Pope Francis meeting workers from aluminum company Alcoa during his general audience April 2, 2014. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

On hope grounded in the Gospel:

“…Revive the roots of faith and your fidelity to Jesus Christ. Here is the guiding principle of the choices made by a Christian: his faith. Faith moves mountains!

…Dear brothers and sisters, never stop hoping for a better future. Fight for it, fight. Do not be trapped in the vortex of pessimism, please! If each one does his or her part, if everyone always places the human person — not money — with his dignity at the center, if an attitude of solidarity and fraternal sharing inspired by the Gospel is strengthened, you will be able to leave behind the morass of a hard and difficult economic season of work.”

Audience with Italian steelworkers at the Vatican, March 20, 2014

rosary catch

Pope Francis holds a rosary he caught in the crowd as he arrives for his weekly general audience at the Vatican June 5, 2013. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)


While work is key, always take time out to pray:

“To listen to the Lord, we must learn to contemplate, feel his constant presence in our lives and we must stop and converse with him, give him space in prayer. Each of us, even you boys and girls, young people, so many of you here this morning, should ask yourselves: ‘how much space do I give to the Lord? Do I stop to talk with him?’ …Let us remember the Lord more in our daily life!”

General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, Feast of St. Joseph the Worker,  May 1, 2013