By Lydia O'Kane
The aim of the Galileo Foundation is “to strive for a society where no one is left behind or deprived through poverty.” It also places particular emphasis on the elimination of modern slavery and human trafficking in all its forms.
Human trafficking and Christian duty to raise awareness
In his prepared remarks to members of the foundation, Pope Francis told them that they had “an essential part to play in making known the saving message of the Gospel to the people of our time, and especially to the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters." He then encouraged the group “to keep on generously offering such important witness”, before adding, that it was an essential duty for Christians today to highlight the plight of those who suffer from exploitation, and "the deadly crime of human trafficking."
Saint Josephine Bakhita
The 8th of February marks the World Day of Prayer and Reflection against Human Trafficking and is also the feast day of Saint Josephine Bakhita, the patron of victims of human trafficking. Reflecting on this 21st century Saint, the Pope said, “she knew from painful experience the reality of slavery and its humiliating and violent consequences. Yet, by God’s grace, she also came to know true freedom and joy.”
Attend the poor with gentleness and compassion
He underlined that her holiness of life was “a summons not only to fight with greater determination against modern forms of slavery which are an open wound on the body of society, a scourge upon the body of Christ and a crime against humanity, but also to learn from her great example.” “She teaches us”, he added, “how to attend to the poor with tenderness, gentleness and compassion.”
Concluding his address the Pope prayed that the members of the Galileo Foundation would be sustained “by an ever deeper rootedness in prayer, by the intercession of Saint Josephine Bakhita and by the strength, the Holy Spirit alone can give.”