8 February 2023 | Message


Today we remember Santa Bakhita, the patroness of victims of human
trafficking. I join you as you celebrate the Day, the ninth World Day of Prayer
and Reflection against Trafficking in Persons whose theme isWalk for Dignity and
which involves young people as protagonists.
I address you young people in particular: I encourage you to take care of your
dignity and that of every person you meet. I learned that it was you who chose
“Walking for Dignity” as the theme. It is very important: it indicates a great
horizon for your commitment against trafficking: human dignity. In this way you
can help keep hope alive; and I also add joy, which I invite you to keep in your
hearts, together with the Word of God, because true joy is Christ!
Trafficking in persons disfigures dignity. Exploitation and subjection limit freedom
and make people objects to be used and discarded. And the trafficking system
takes advantage of injustices and inequities that force millions of people to live
in conditions of vulnerability. In fact, people impoverished by the economic
crisis, wars, climate change and so much instability are easily recruited.
Unfortunately, trafficking is growing to a worrying extent, especially affecting
migrants, women and children, young people like you, people full of dreams and
the desire to live in dignity.
We know, we are living in difficult times, but it is precisely in this reality that all
of us, especially young people, are called to join forces to weave networks of
good, to spread the light that comes from Christ and his Gospel. The light that
will symbolically be delivered in these days to the young people who have come
to Rome to represent the organizations that have been collaborating for years for
this Day of prayer and commitment against trafficking. With this gesture you are
sent as missionaries of human dignity, against human trafficking and all forms of
exploitation. Thus a special year of youth involvement is inaugurated, until the
next Day in 2024. Guard this light and you will be a blessing for other young
people. Never tire of seeking ways to transform our societies and prevent this
shameful scourge of human trafficking.
Walk for dignity, against human trafficking, leaving no one behind. I would like
to take up some beautiful expressions you wrote: “Walking witheyes open to
re-know the processes that induce millions of people, especially young people, to
be trafficked to be brutally exploited. Walk withthe attentive heart to discover
and support daily journeys for freedom and dignity. Walkwith hope on my feet to
promote anti-trafficking actions. Walkshaking hands together to support each
other and build a culture of encounter, which leads to the conversion of hearts
and to inclusive societies, capable of protecting the rights and dignity of every
I hope that many will accept your invitation to walk together against trafficking:
walk together with those who are destroyed by the violence of sexual and labor
exploitation; walking together with migrants, displaced persons, those in search
of a place to live in peace and with the family. Together with you young people,
to courageously reaffirm the value of human dignity.
I thank you and I say to you: go ahead with courage! Go forward with courage!
The Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you. Saint Bakhita pray with us and for
us. I heartily bless all of you who work against trafficking and every person you
meet on this journey for dignity. Thank you!