Caritas Asia organised a regional planning workshop on anti-trafficking of women and children in Tagaytay, Philippines, from 21 to 23 November at the CBCP Nassa BEC development Center. The workshop was hosted by Caritas Philippines, Nassa. I could join the workshop as the President of Caritas Asia only on the first day to welcome more than 30 participants from 11 countries in Asia. Bishop Pabillo, the chairman of CBCP Commission on Social Action, joined the opening Mass and gave us encouragement through his homily. Caritas Internationalis is also represented by Ms. Orga Zhyvvsta, the project adviser in Rome.
Caritas Asia inherited the program on the Anti-trafficking from APHD and has been seriously tackling this terrible crime in the modern society. So this workshop is to evaluate past experience of the program and plan for future.
Below is my welcome address at the beginning of the workshop.
This is my greatest pleasure to be with you today to join the Caritas Asia Workshop on Anti-Trafficking of Women and Children. While showing our sincere gratitude to Caritas Philippines (NASSA) who is generously hosting this event, I also welcome all of you on behalf of the entire member organizations of Caritas Asia.
Currently, our Church is celebrating the Year of Faith from 11 October 2012 to 24 November 2013. The Holy Father has set this occasion for all Christians to rediscover, and share with others the precious gift of Faith entrusted to the Church and the personal gift of faith that we have each received from God. As a member of Caritas Member Organizations, we also share this sentiment of the Catholic Church and try to commit ourselves to be a part of its mission, especially in the field of charitable activities. The Holy Father, in his first Encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" puts emphasis on the three-fold responsibilities of the Church which are "proclaiming the word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the sacraments (leitourgia), and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia)" Therefore, while participating in the Caritas activities, we are also taking part in the essential dimension of its mission.
The Year of Faith also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. Among all the important documents of the Council, the "PASTORAL CONSTITUTION ON THE CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD", "GAUDIUM ET SPES" has significant importance for our direction in Caritas activities. The constitution begins with these famous phrases: "The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts."
Though we may find number of "joys and hopes" among people whom we serve, much more "griefs and anxieties" attracts our attention. One of these "griefs and anxieties" is problems caused by human trafficking of women and children.
Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal activity in modern society. It has been victimizing millions of women, children all over the world. And it does not care about international borders. Therefore every country of this world is affected in one way or another. So it is a cry of the people that has to be answered by each and everyone.I hope that this meeting for the member organizations of Caritas Asia, that are part of the regional program on the Anti-Trafficking of Women and Children, will give all of us a good opportunity to share our experiences and give us courage to work for people who are locked in the bond of human misery.
I wish you all a happy stay in the Philippines.