- Catholic News Agency - Sunday, February 8, 2015

Vatican City - Pope Francis marked the Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking by calling on governments to remove this “shameful wound” which has no place in “civil society.”

“Each one of us feels committed to being the voice of these, our brothers and sisters, humiliated in their dignity,” the pontiff said Sunday to the crowds gathered in Saint Peter’s Square.

The Feb. 8 the Day of Prayer coincides with the feast of Saint Josephine Bakhita, the 19th century Sudanese nun who as a child had been a victim of slavery, the pontiff noted.

Pope Francis offered his encouragement to those working to end the trafficking of “men, women, and children” who are “enslaved, exploited, abused as instruments of work or pleasure, and often tortured and humiliated.”

He then called governments to action in “removing the cause of this shameful wound… a wound unworthy in a civil society.”

The United Nations estimates that as many as 2.5 million people are living as victims of human trafficking at any given time.

The pope focused the theme of healing in the Gospel,  basing his address on Mark 1: 29-29, which recounts the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law.

“To preach and to heal: this is the principle activity of Jesus in his public life,” the pontiff said. “By preaching, he announces the Kingdom of God, and by healing demonstrates that this is near, that the Kingdom of God is in our midst.”

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