Yesterday we witnessed child labour in XIX Century England, but exploitation is still with us. I read recently that Garment Workers in England are still receiving no more than a fraction of the National Minimum Wage, legally established since 1999, and exploitation is rife elsewhere in the fashion industry world-wide. Here is John Wesley on slavery and justice. His first sentence sets out with great clarity why slavery is evil. Following on from that realisation, there should be action: give liberty to whom liberty is due … every child of man. The prayer that follows is also a homily that every one of us should reflect upon, for slavery, or near slavery, still exists in different forms and we all benefit from poor people’s suffering.
Liberty is the right of every human creature, as soon as he breathes the vital air; and no human law can deprive him of that right which he derives from the law of nature.
If, therefore, you have any regard to justice, (to say nothing of mercy, nor the revealed law of God,) render unto all their due. Give liberty to whom liberty is due, that is, to every child of man, to every partaker of human nature. Let none serve you but by his own act and deed, by his own voluntary choice. Away with all whips, all chains, all compulsion! Be gentle toward all men; and see that you invariably do unto every one as you would he should do unto you.
O thou God of love,
thou who art loving to every man, and whose mercy is over all thy works;
thou who art the Father of the spirits of all flesh, and who art rich in mercy unto all;
thou who hast mingled of one blood all the nations upon earth;
have compassion upon these outcasts of men, who are trodden down as dung upon the earth!
Arise, and help these that have no helper, whose blood is spilt upon the ground like water!
Are not these also the work of thine own hands, the purchase of thy Son's blood?
Stir them up to cry unto thee in the land of their captivity; and let their complaint come up before thee;
let it enter into thy ears!
Make even those that lead them away captive to pity them,
and turn their captivity as the rivers in the south.
O burst thou all their chains in sunder; more especially the chains of their sins!
Thou Saviour of all, make them free, that they may be free indeed!
This is the conclusion of Pope Francis’s message for the eighth World Day of Prayer and Reflection against Human Trafficking. this is marked on Saint Bakhita’s day, 8th February. All our posts for the month were in place awaiting publication when this message was issued, but Francis’s call to be conscious of, to recognise the dignity of each person accords with our Lenten theme.
Saint Bakhita shows us the way of transformation. Her life tells us that change is possible when one lets oneself be transformed by God’s care for each one of us. It is the care of mercy – it is the care of love that changes us deeply and makes us able to welcome others as brothers and sisters. Recognising the dignity of each person is the first act of care, it is the first act of care! Recognising dignity. And taking care of others is good for all, for those who give and those who receive, because it is not a unidirectional action, but rather it generates reciprocity. God took care of Josephine Bakhita; he accompanied her in the process of healing the wounds caused by slavery, until her heart, mind and inner self became capable of reconciliation, freedom and tenderness.
I encourage every woman and every girl who is committed to transformation and care, in school, in the family, and in society. And I encourage every man and every boy not to be left out of this process of transformation, recalling the example of the Good Samaritan: a man who is not ashamed to tend to his brother and to take care of him. Taking care is God’s action in history, in our personal history and in our history as a community. God has taken care ‘of’, and takes care ‘for’ us continually.
Caring together, men and women, is the appeal of this World Day of Prayer and reflection against human trafficking: together we can encourage the growth of an economy of care, opposing with all our might every form of exploitation in human trafficking.
Dear sisters and dear brothers, I know that many of you are participating in this Day of prayer and reflection, from various countries and different religious traditions. I wish to express my gratitude and encouragement to all of you: let us go forward in the struggle against human trafficking and every form of slavery and exploitation. I invite you all to keep your indignation alive – keep your indignation alive! – and to find, every day, the strength to engage with determination on this front. Do not be afraid of the arrogance of violence, no! Do not surrender to the corruption of money and power.
Thank you all, and keep going, do not be discouraged! May God bless you and your work. Thank you.
‘My children and grandchildren will have a problem growing coffee if current generations don’t take action against climate change.’ Caroline Rono, pictured above on her Fairtrade coffee farm in Kenya Caroline sent us this vital reminder on the very first day in the Choose The World You Want festival: to choose that fairer world we all want, we can all take action.And Caroline is leading the way. Like other Fairtrade farmers we’ve met this week, she’s planted trees on her farm, embraced sustainable energy and taken up training on climate-friendly farming techniques. Choosing Fairtrade is one way we can join her in taking action. Action that means more power and more income for farmers like Caroline to take on the huge challenges of climate change.In fact, every single event at the Choose The World You Want festival showcases ways we can take action to back the communities most threatened by climate change. As week two begins, here’s a sneak peak of a few events we’re really looking forward to. #1: The Unfair Climate Crisis, 6pm UK time Wednesday 2 March Around the world it is those on low-incomes, people of colour, indigenous groups, and women feeling the worst effects of climate change.Our expert panel discuss how these deep-seated global injustices are linked, and how we can tackle them together to achieve a fairer future. Fairtrade Africa’s Kate Nkatha hosts a discussion between climate activist and musician Louis VI, 350.org’s Namrata Chowdhary and the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance’s Mithika Mwenda. JOIN THIS EVENT #2: Tony’s and Fairtrade: Choco Quiz and Tasting, 4pm UK time Friday 4 March Try some top Fairtrade chocolate and test your choco knowledge with this quiz and tasting session, featuring cocoa experts from Tony’s and Fairtrade. Sign up and treat yourself some tasty Tony’s goodies to join the fun. Host Angel Arutura, anti-racism educator, activist and content creator, joins Fairtrade cocoa producer and livelihood development officer Deborah Osei-Mensah, Tony’s representative Nicola Matthews and Fairtrade Foundation’s David Finlay. JOIN THIS EVENT And from Fairtrade wine tasting sessions with Co-op to an evening of arts, music and storytelling with the Africaniwa tribe, there’s much much more going on in the final week of the Choose The World You Want festival. Missed anything from week one? Not to worry, many events are now available to watch in our ‘On Demand’ section, including a screening of a film featuring Caroline and a question and answer session with her. More ways to get involved Celebrate the campaigners taking action Fairtrade campaigners have been pounding the streets and flying the flag for Fairtrade this week. Literally! Fairtrade London organised a guided walk around the city on Friday, tracing the links from the transatlantic slave trade to modern global trade inequalities. Meanwhile in Mossley some wonderfully colourful Fairtrade flags are flying to celebrate ten years of Fairtrade Town status.
SHARE YOUR FORTNIGHT ACTIVITES Visit our youth exhibition With thousands of Fairtrade schools, universities and colleges across the UK, youth activism is always at the heart of Fairtrade Fortnight. And this year the Fairtrade Youth Exhibition gives young people a chance to find creative ways to call for climate justice.Find more on the Fairtrade Schools website, where you will find many more opportunities for young people to get involved in Fairtrade Fortnight. Get your MP involved We’re asking MPs to deliver on the promises they made at COP26. Promises to fund just the type of brilliant grassroots climate-friendly farming initiatives Fairtrade farmers have been telling us about all week. Fairtrade Fortnight is the perfect time to ask your MP to back a fair deal for farmers living with the consequences of a climate crisis they did not cause. Use our quick form to get in touch with your representative. WRITE TO YOUR MP And finally, grab those extra ethical bargains! Discounts, competitions and special offers on lots of your Fairtrade favourites are coming thick and fast this Fairtrade Fortnight. Visit our website to scout out special offers from the likes of Traidcraft, Ben & Jerry’s and LIDL. Hope you’ve enjoyed the first week of the Choose The World You Want festival as much as we did. Have a restful weekend as we gear up for another seven days of celebrating and supporting the climate action of farmers and workers around the world. Best wishes, Stefan Campaigns Team, Fairtrade Foundation
We’ve recently updated our privacy notice. Please read it for up-to-date information about how we use and look after your personal information. Manage your preferences | Unsubscribe Fairtrade Foundation, 5.7 The Loom, 14 Gower’s Walk, London, E1 8PYWe are a registered charity in England and Wales (no 1043886) and a company limited by guarantee registered in England (no 2733136).
Each year about the feast of Saint Bakhita, we turn our thoughts to those caught up in slave trade, which we know all too well has not gone away.
Gregory XVI was not the most liberal of Popes. He condemned railways as ‘chemins d’enfer’, roads to hell, because they encouraged the rise of the culture of trade and increased the power and influence of the middle classes, upsetting the social order. For all that he followed a number of rprevious popes in recognising that the slave trade was indefensible. His 1839 encyclical ‘In Supremo Apostolatus’ cited Saint Paul to the Ephesians (6:5ff) and Colossians (3:22ff, 4:1) as signs of the early Church demonstrating a new attitude to slavery. Slave and Master were both human, both answerable to one Lord, both to be treated with respect. Gregory’s language is not that of Pope Francis, but sadly, Francis and today’s Church must still address the issues of modern slavery. First Pope Gregory, followed by Sisters in Zambia today, who are working to address these issues.
We have judged that it belonged to Our pastoral solicitude to exert Ourselves to turn away the Faithful from the inhuman slave trade in Negroes and all other men. … Desiring to remove such a shame from all the Christian nations, having fully reflected over the whole question and having taken the advice of many of Our Venerable Brothers the Cardinals, and walking in the footsteps of Our Predecessors, We warn and adjure earnestly in the Lord faithful Christians of every condition that no one in the future dare to use violence against anyone, despoil him of his possessions, reduce to servitude, or lend aid and favour to those who give themselves up to these practices, or exercise that inhuman traffic by which the Blacks, as if they were not men but rather animals, having been brought into servitude, in no matter what way, are, without any distinction, in contempt of the rights of justice and humanity, bought, sold, and devoted sometimes to the hardest labour.
We reprove, then, by virtue of Our Apostolic Authority, all the practices mentioned above as absolutely unworthy of the Christian name. By the same Authority We prohibit and strictly forbid any Ecclesiastic or lay person from presuming to defend as permissible this traffic in Blacks under no matter what pretext or excuse, or from publishing or teaching in any manner whatsoever, in public or privately, opinions contrary to what We have set forth in this Apostolic Letter.
The following photograph is from Global Sisters Report, it introduces an article by Sister Eucharia Madueke about how Sisters in Zambia are organising to combat human trafficking. ‘Open your eyes’ is a call to us as well. Read the full article here.
Sisters from across Zambia attended a workshop in November 2021 in Makeni, Lusaka, on advocacy against human trafficking. The sisters stand with the signs they made as part of their awareness-raising efforts. (Sr. Eucharia Madueke)
In the years leading to the French Revolution of 1789 there were abolitionists striving to find a way to free the slaves in France’s American and Caribbean colonies and terminate the slave trade. Two such were Jacques Pierre Brissot and the Swiss pastor Benjamin Sigismond Frossard.
Before all that the two men met in Lyon, where Frossard was a pastor and member of academic societies. Brissot was edified by Frossard’s preaching, and at the Lord’s Supper was struck by the realisation that ‘it was indeed the meal and the sign of equality’.
Frossard himself referred to the liturgy as a bridge between slave and master where all people came to profess that they are equal.
Brissot was guillotined in 1793, as the revolution turned in upon itself, and Frossard returned to Switzerland. Although the National Assembly in Paris abolished slavery, Napoleon reinstated the practice, which had never gone away because the Assembly was unable to enforce its decrees across the Atlantic.
My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
The source for this post is FROSSARD AND THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY: A MORAL DILEMMA by Barbara Saunderson.
The word that came to Jeremias from the Lord, saying: Stand in the gate of the house of the Lord, and proclaim there this word, and say: Hear ye the word of the Lord, all ye men of Juda, that enter in at these gates, to adore the Lord.
Thus saith the Lord of hosts the God of Israel: Make your ways and your doings good: and I will dwell with you in this place. Trust not in lying words, saying: The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, it is the temple of the Lord … you put your trust in lying words, which shall not profit you:
To steal, to murder, to commit adultery, to swear falsely, to offer to Baalim, and to go after strange gods, which you know not. And you have come, and stood before me in this house, in which my name is called upon, and have said: We are delivered, because we have done all these abominations. Is this house then, in which my name hath been called upon, in your eyes become a den of robbers? I, I am he: I have seen it, saith the Lord.
If Jeremiah was preaching at a gateway like this, he would get noticed; even if other preachers were getting pushed to the side by impatient passers-by.
Occasionally there are preachers around Canterbury Cathedral’s main Christ Church gate: mostly they seem to be ignored, as the churches themselves are much of the time. People say I’m too nice to them if I stop and chat, or engage with the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Someone Else called the Temple a den of robbers, and drove the moneychangers out of the courtyard. They were no doubt raking in a tidy profit, in effect making Mammon, or money, at home in God’s House; going after strange gods, as we are tempted to do today. We may not be directly sacrificing children to Baal or to Mammon but there are many children whose all-but slave labour contributes to our comfortable lifestyle. Think of clothes and shoes made in Asian countries.
Willy-nilly we are caught in a web of sinfulness and can do little to escape it. At least there are some fair trade products on the market that we can buy, and we can hope that the shops we use do indeed check all the way back along the supply chain to see that workers are treated fairly.
People on both sides of the Atlantic are revisiting their history and discovering that much has been omitted. One area that has come under scrutiny is slavery down to the 19th Century and its after effects in terms of poverty and social attitudes.
It was slaves that built the University of Virginia originally, a fact unacknowledged until now. The link is to the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers now erected close to the centre of the site. It explores the memorial and its symbolism and how the design came about.
On March 3rd in 1865 Union Troops emancipated the local slaves.
There has been much complaint about ‘one law for us, another for them’ during the course of the pandemic. Nothing new about that, of course. Blaise Pascal identified the problem a century before Doctor Johnson. It’s easy to see how similar assertions about being born in the wrong place at the wrong time could be used to justify slavery.
In the letter of the law injustice can come in. The pleasantries of the elders who have everything: my friend, since you were born on this side of the mountain, it’s right that your elder brother should have everything.
But as Johnson said, you cannot argue with avarice – or unregulated capitalism. We just have to learn to live life simply, without unnecessary stuff, as to an extent we have had to these last months. As we come out of the infection and the danger of covid19, we could think more carefully about what we are buying, in particular about the costs of production in terms of human and environmental justice and peace.
Pope Gregory’s answer was not to argue with the slavers but to send Augustine to convert the English, including, no doubt, those men prepared to kidnap children and sell them on as slaves. But today we all need to convert ourselves from destroying our sisters and brothers, and destroying our common home, through what we buy. It’s not a task we’ll succeed in when life revolves around mobile phones that depend on exploited labour to extract the ores to produce the precious metals that power them. But we can do something if we reflect upon it.
Boswell writes: In his review of the ‘Memoirs of the Court of Augustus,’ [Samuel Johnson] has the resolution to think and speak from his own mind, regardless of the cant transmitted from age to age, in praise of the ancient Romans. Thus,
‘I know not why any one but a school-boy in his declamation should whine over the Common-wealth of Rome, which grew great only by the misery of the rest of mankind. The Romans, like others, as soon as they grew rich, grew corrupt; and in their corruption sold the lives and freedoms of themselves, and of one another.’
Life of Johnson, Volume 1 1709-1765 by James Boswell.
Even the convinced imperialist John Buchan, recognised that: ‘The existence of a subject race on whatever terms is apt to lead to the deterioration in moral and mental vigour of its masters.’1And we see today, if we look, all manner of slavery, or almost slavery, cheap and forced labour, land degradation, poor health and safety.
Today is the Feast of Saint Josephine Bakhita, liberated slave and religious sister.
1Buchan A Lodge in the Wilderness Chapter XIV The Subject Races.