Modern slavery now entraps an estimated 40 million people around the world, 10 million of them children. Never before have so many been exploited through forced labor, child labor or human trafficking. In the United States, at least 400,000 people are enslaved, according to the latest figures from the Global Slavery Index, and in Australia the figure is 15,000.
The Eradicating Modern Slavery from Catholic Supply Chains Conference, held in Sydney in July, sought to prepare and equip large Catholic entities to eradicate modern slavery and to meet the requirements of new national legislation. The conference brought together representatives from 40 Catholic dioceses and organizations in the health, elder care, education and welfare sectors from across the nation.
This conference provided an opportunity to review the results of a modern slavery risk analysis conducted on suppliers representing more than $2 billion of spending (in Australian dollars) by 23 Catholic entities. The analysis covered five key areas: customers and stakeholders; human resources and recruitment; procurement and supply chain; risk management; and management systems.
Tens of thousands of worshippers, priests in the Diocese of Kontum (central Vietnam) and Redemptorists have celebrated 50 years (1969-2019) of missionary work among the communities of Vietnam’s central highlands, home to ethnic Jarai, Bahnar and others (Montagnards).
The Diocese has more than 300,000 members out of a population of 1.8 million, divided into 116 parishes. Out of 141 priests, 29 priests are Redemptorist, plus three nuns from the same congregation, to serve 61,000 Catholics divided in various tribal communities.
“In 1988, Pope John Paul II canonised 117 Vietnamese martyrs,” said Fr Joseph Trần Sĩ Tín. “Since then, the Jarai who lived between Pleiku and Kontum begun to seek out the faith. They also visited the Redemptorists and received the Word of God. Over this period, the Redemptorists have taught the catechism and provided the sacraments.”
An open letter to the Russian state authorities has created a sensation. The text – still open for signature on an independent Orthodox website, pravmir.ru – criticised as “unjust” and “cruel” prison sentences meted out last month to democracy campaigners who demonstrated against the blocking of opposition candidates from Moscow City Council elections. In a respectful yet firm tone, priests and deacons alleged glaring miscarriages of justice and condemned “any violence, be it by protesters or by authorities”.
The open letter took the existing crisis in the Russian Orthodox Church to a new level. It also made waves among those critics of the Russian regime who had thought the Church was a lost cause in their struggle for justice and democracy. That clerics came out in defence of those hounded by the state will no doubt make many think twice about the role the Church could play in the future. It may even be that they saved it from becoming irrelevant in a new Russia that will eventually emerge after Vladimir Putin has gone.