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Ireland and Britain fight modern slavery




The Ambassadors of Ireland and Britain to the Holy See speak about their respective government’s anti-slavery policies at an event remembering the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

While participating at an event hosted by the International Union of Superiors General, the Ambassadors of Ireland and Britain to the Holy See took the opportunity of presenting their respective government’s anti-slavery, anti-trafficking policies.

Ireland against trafficking

Derek Hannon, the Irish Ambassador to the Holy See said that Ireland is committed to combatting human trafficking, both “domestically and in cooperation with our international partners”. Central to the “development and execution of our national action plan to combat human trafficking”, is the implementation of the UN Global Plan of Action Against Trafficking in Persons, the Ambassador said. Ireland developed this plan after consulting “partners” at both the national and international levels, and those representing society at large as well. It contains a “clear, collaborative program to advance the fight against trafficking and enhance protection of victims”. Ireland, he said, has also established an anti-trafficking unit, updated its legislation, inaugurated structures at the judicial, investigative and medical levels, and is committed to placing victims and their human rights “at the centre of the response to human trafficking”.

Britain combats modern forms of slavery

Sally Axworthy, the British Ambassador to the Holy See explained the programs adopted in the UK to eradicate modern forms of slavery. She said that Britain’s modern slavery policy began in 2004 when 23 Chinese fishermen working under slave conditions in Morecombe Bay died because their “gang master” put profit over their safety. “It shocked public opinion that such a thing could happen”, the Ambassador said. Not only is there a modern slavery problem in the UK, Axworthy said, but it also gets a lot of publicity. “In seemingly very normal places, there will be people being trafficked in the UK to work in car washes” or nail bars, she said.

Statistics of modern slavery in the UK

Forced labour and sexual exploitation are the leading areas where victims of trafficking find themselves, followed by domestic labour. Of the roughly 1,650 cases reported to the National Referral Mechanism between April and June 2018, 695, or 42%, involved minors.  Internationally, at any one time in 2016, an estimated 40.3 million people were experiencing modern slavery. That means for every thousand people, there are 5.4 victims. One in four victims is a child. Modern slavery affects women and girls disproportionately: 99% of women in the sex industry, and 58% in other forced labour areas.

Britain’s response to modern slavery

Britain passed the Modern Slavery Act in 2015 which “brought together all our existing offenses into one Act”, the Ambassador explained. Prevention is one component of Britain’s response. “There are lots of posters in the UK, telling people how to spot when people are at risk”, Axworthy said. Victim support is a second category through which victims have access to such things as “housing, health care, education counselling” for a period of 45-90 days. Supply chains are a particular focus of scrutiny. Any company with more than 250 employees must “to produce a report saying how they are tackling modern slavery”. In this way companies are encouraged to be aware if there is “slavery in their supply chains”. Bringing human traffickers to justice has resulted in “1000 convictions for modern slavery offenses” since 2010, the Ambassador said.

At the international level

Along with the Holy See, Britain lobbied for Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 so that it remains on the United Nation’s agenda.  Prime Minister Theresa May launched a “Call for Action” in 2017 at the UN which “sets out all the things that we think make part of an effective response to modern slavery”. Around 80 countries have signed on to it as Britain seeks to revitalize international collaboration. Britain aldo funds projects overseas. Some of these funds go to the International Union of Superiors General who, through Talitha Kum, is actively part of anti-trafficking activity, especially in Africa. Finally, she mentioned the Santa Marta group, a collaboration between Bishops, and law enforcement where information is exchanged at an annual meeting.


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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes



Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump - CAN fumes

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.

President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.

Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.

He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.

He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.

“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’

“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.

“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.

“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.

“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.

“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”

However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.

He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.

“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”

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Nuncio tasks clergy, laity on good stewardship



Nuncio tasks clergy, laity on good stewardship

The Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, has urged the clergy, religious and lay faithful to be trustworthy, transparent, selfless and generous stewards in the discharge of their duties in the Church, following the way of Jesus.

Archbishop Filipazzi made the call during the opening ceremony of the maiden General Assembly of the Abuja Archdiocese, which was held on at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Friday September 4.

The General Assembly, with the theme “Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja: Together in Evangelization,” saw Bishops, priests, religious men and women, and the laity gathered together to discuss means of strengthening the faith of God’s people amid the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis.

Addressing participants, Archbishop Filipazzi said that “an administrator is neither a master nor a slave who cannot decide anything, but one who is given a responsibility by the Master.” In this light, the faithful are called to be “true administrators of divine mystery” entrusted to them by Our Lord, according to their varying roles in the Church.

The Apostolic Nuncio also said “differences must not lead to division,” as everyone, though different, must strive for unity since there is no room for divisions in the body of Christ.

Archbishop Filipazzi, speaking on the upsurge in violence in northern Nigeria in a Vatican News interview on 29 August, had also called for shunning divisions along religious and ethnic lines.

Rather, he appealed for “general respect of the law and general intervention of the government” in the violent attacks which have claimed many lives and caused massive material damage.

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Assumpta CMO raises fund to roof “St Joseph’s Hall of Faith”



Assumpta CMO raises fund to roof “St. Joseph's Hall of Faith”

The Catholic Men Organization, CMO, Maria Assumpta Cathedral Parish Owerri, joined their counterparts in the Archdiocese to celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, August 30.

The celebration earlier scheduled for May 10 this year was differed because of Covid-19 pandemic.

The occasion began with a Pontifical Mass presided over by His Grace, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna, Archbishop of Owerri cum Parish Priest of the Cathedral Parish.

In his homily, Archbishop Obinna called on Christians to live a life of witnessing to Christ at all times. He said that the zeal to preach the word of God is like a fire that burns inside the heart of a Christian and will not abate until one bears witness to Christ. This, he said, must be done in the course of our daily lives, in our places of work, in our families, among our friends, through living life that is Christ-like.

He congratulated the Christian fathers on the occasion and appealed for support to enable them complete their building project in no distant time. His Grace also appreciated the performance of the CMO choir during the Mass.

The theme for the parish celebration is: “Catholic Men As Spiritual Heads of the Domestic Church: Implications in the Family.”

The parish CMO used the celebration to raise fund for the roofing of their building project named: “St. Joseph’s Hall of Faith.”

In his brief remark at the occasion, the Parish CMO President, Arc. Anthony Emeka Ozoude said, “We have been able to complete the block work,” adding that, “the task before us now is to put a roof on the building.”

He therefore made a passionate appeal for generous donations from members and well wishers, assuring donors that every kobo donated will be prudently applied for the purpose.

Arc. Ozoude recalled that early this year, the parish CMO executive identified a three-prong programme of focus, namely: Membership revalidation, Debt recovery and Fund raising for the roofing.

He advised members not to sit on the fence anymore as there is so much to gain spiritually, morally and even intellectually from participating in the CMO activities both at the parish, stations and prayer groups levels.

“The committed members who attend our programmes regularly have discovered this and have remained resolute in their participation,” he said.

Activities marking this year’s celebration included Retreat, visit to ailing members in their homes, thanksgiving Mass blessing of the mini altars for the 5 prayer groups of CMO etc.

Arc. Ozoude thanked in a special way, Archbishop Obinna, the Cathedral Administrator and priests working in the Cathedral for their support. He also commended the various stations and prayer groups for their cooperation.

The CMO president acknowledged the good work and sacrifice of the Planning Committee, headed by Dr. Uche Ukozor and thanked them for a job well done.

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