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An image of St Josephine Bakhita is carried in procession during a 2017 prayer service led by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Basilica (CNS)

The fight to end slavery demands patience, perseverance and courage from everyone, writes John McCarthy. Source: The Catholic Weekly. 

Catholics today mark the Feast Day Mass of St Josephine Bakhita – the patron saint of victims of modern slavery and human trafficking. As Catholics, we’re united in our belief that action against modern slavery is a fundamental Catholic Social Teaching.

The eradication of modern slavery and the pastoral care of victims is a priority for the Church. Pope Francis continually draws the attention of the Church and the wider world to this moral and human crisis.

Modern slavery deprives people of their basic human rights and dignity. Modern slavery harms individuals, families, communities, and society as a whole.

More than 50 million people are estimated to be in modern slavery worldwide. This is not just overseas, with thousands of migrant workers experiencing the worst forms of labour exploitation here in Australia.

Pope Francis has called on Catholic individuals and institutions worldwide to create an economy of care, an economy that does not exploit workers.

Five years ago today, Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP responded to the Pope’s call to action with the launch of the Anti-Slavery Taskforce’s first report.

Four years ago, the Modern Slavery Act 2018 was introduced as an Australian Government commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to end modern slavery by 2030. The Act requires large businesses and non-profits to assess, address and mitigate modern slavery risks to people in supply chains and operations.

Today, the Sydney Archdiocese manages the Australian Catholic Anti-slavery Network, known as ACAN, and the ACAN modern slavery risk management program.

I am inspired to report to you that 90 per cent of Catholic organisations, reporting under the Modern Slavery Act, participate in the ACAN Program.

John McCarthy is the chair of Sydney Archdiocese’s Anti-slavery Network.


Making slavery unacceptable (By John McCarthy, The Catholic Weekly)


 St Josephine Bakhita Feast Day (Australian Catholic Anti-slavery Network)