Jesus said: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me…
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4:18-19)
Modern slavery, an umbrella term used to describe slavery and slavery-like practices including forced labour and human trafficking, is in the words of Pope Francis “an open wound on … contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ. It is a crime against humanity.”
On 28 March 2017 the Archbishop of Sydney, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP gave evidence before the Legislative
Council select committee on human trafficking in NSW.
In his opening statement Archbishop Fisher committed the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney including its agencies to a programme directed towards eradicating modern slavery and human trafficking in the Archdiocese of Sydney through practical measures such as anti-slavery supply chain strategy; anti-slavery education and engagement initiatives; and anti-slavery welfare services. He publicly committed the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney to the eradication of modern slavery and appointed an Anti-Slavery Taskforce to this end.
The Taskforce led by John McCarthy QC and Katherine Moloney has committed itself to fulfilling this mandate, working with the relevant stakeholders both within the Archdiocese and without, endeavouring to strive for a world free of modern slavery and exploitation.
On February 8, the Church celebrates the feast of St Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped and forced into slavery as a girl. She would later become a Canossian sister, working to help the poor and suffering, and was canonised in 2000. February 8 has been designated as a day of prayer, reflection and action to end the injustice of human trafficking. On this day Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP is celebrating a Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral for the Feast Day of St Bakhita and at the same time announcing the work of the Sydney Archdiocesan Anti-Slavery Taskforce.