2022 Assembly


Anti-trafficking department of the Spanish Episcopal Conference host exhibition


At least 3 RENATE members, Maria Franciscas Sanchez, Ma.Pilar Caño González and Begoña Iñarra helped prepare the exhibition, which is the responsibility of the anti-trafficking department of the Spanish Episcopal Conference. The exhibition will be hosted throughout Spain over the coming months. 

From the 1st to 15th February the exhibition took place at St. Jeronimo’s Church which is located directly behind the Prado Museum, thus, many tourists saw it and it is all the more accessible since the titles were translated in English. 

St. Jeronimo’s Church was also the location for the beautiful vigil for the feast of St. Bakhita.

At the opening ceremony, Marifran Sanchez presented the exhibition and Begona Inarra presented on the question ’What is Human Trafficking?’ 

From the 16th to the 28th February the exhibition will be held at the Dominican Centre in Madrid. 

You can view the exhibition here


Additionally, below is an article of Ana Almaza (Adorers sisters) member of the Madrid Church Anti-trafficking here


About the last exhibition at St. Jeronimo’s Church please read more here


8th International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking


The eighth edition of the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking was an important time to pray and reflect together on the theme: “The Power of Care. Women, Economy and Human Trafficking”.

This gallery is a space of gratitude and commemoration of the most powerful moments of the Day organized by the International Committee in collaboration with each of you.

You can also watch the full day of prayer and reflection, which was broadcast and recorded in 5 languages. via the links at the bottom of this page.







Pope Francis on the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking: “Do not be afraid of the arrogance of violence”


Watch on YouTube

Full transcript in English:

“Dear sisters and dear brothers!

I address my greeting and my thanks to the organizers of the World Day of Prayer and Reflection against Human Trafficking, promoted by the International Union of Superiors General and the Union of Superiors General. Special thanks are owed to the group Talitha Kum, which is coordinating the initiative in collaboration with many local and international organizations.

The theme this year is: “The power of care. Women, economy and human trafficking”. It invites us to consider the condition of women and girls, subjected to multiple forms of exploitation, also through forced marriage, domestic slavery and slave labour. The thousands of women and girls who are trafficked every year denounce the dramatic consequences of relational models based on discrimination and submission, and it is not an exaggeration – there are thousands of them!

The organization of societies worldwide is still far from reflecting clearly the fact that women have the same dignity and identical rights as men. It is unfortunately noted that “doubly poor are those women who endure situations of exclusion, mistreatment and violence, since they are frequently less able to defend their rights” (Encyclical Fratelli Tutti, 23).

Human trafficking, through domestic or sexual exploitation, violently relegates women and girls to their supposed role of subordination, in the provision of domestic or sexual services, and to their role as providers of care and dispensers of pleasure, which proposes yet again a model of relationships marked by the power of the male gender over the female. This occurs even today, and at a high level.

“The violence suffered by every woman and every girl is an open wound on the body of Christ, on the body of all humanity”

Human trafficking is violence! The violence suffered by every woman and every girl is an open wound on the body of Christ, on the body of all humanity; it is a deep wound that affects every one of us too.

There are many women who have had the courage to rebel against violence. We men, too, are also required to do so, to say no to every form of violence, including that against women and girls. And together we can and must fight to ensure that human rights are interpreted in a specific way, respecting diversity and recognizing the dignity of every person, with special attention to those whose fundamental rights have been violated.

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. Recognizing the dignity of each person is the first act of care, it is the first act of care! Recognizing 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.

“Do not be afraid of the arrogance of violence”

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.”

#PrayAgainstTrafficking #ThePowerOfCare

Update from our Partners in Albania : Different & Equal


We are delighted to have received news from Different & Equal giving information on the work that is taking place in Albania.  

One of these projects is the The Mobile Unit : Identifying and Referring Victims of Trafficking

This project began in 2013 and focuses on working with vulnerable people and families and potential victims of trafficking.

The unit has two social workers and two others on the team who work in the identification of potential victims and referrals in line with the National Referral Mechanism and Standard Operating Procedures in Albania. 

The first element of the work is in the identification of potential victims,  and the mobile unit works according to a map of marginalised areas where there is often limited access to information about the risks of exploitation.

Another initiative that this organisation lead is called Grandma’s Home which provides day service for children who have been affected by domestic violence of trafficking.  This initiative was established in 2015 and is a great model of care provision in a setting that feels like a home.

There are now 5 such centres where children are cared for under this project.

We are very grateful for the information from Different & Equal and both of these initiatives have so much value in society where men, women and children are given a chance to be cared for and have their voices heard.

House of Prayer: pray for Mary Ward companions in Ukraine


Dear members of the Mary Ward family

A few days ago, we received an urgent prayer request from the Provincial of the Slovak Province, Sr. Agnesa, as the situation in Ukraine is very dangerous at present.

There is the great fear of another war.

As you will see from the e-mail from Sr Agnesa below, we have eight members, both Ukrainian and Slovak, in Ukraine at present.

Sr. Agnesa writes:

“I would like to inform you about the situation of our members in Ukraine, most of all about our two sisters Anastasia Mazur and Katarina Mazur who are in Kyiv.

This morning we had the Superiors meeting (online) and I spoke with Anastasia about the escalation of the tension between Russia and Ukraine.

Aware of the risk they are facing being in the Capital City of Kyiv in case of any Russian invasion and being concerned about them I suggested they leave Kyiv and come to Uzghorod where they would be much safer than in Kyiv.

Anastasia ́s answer was worthy of a Mary Ward companion
and I am very proud of both the sisters. They would like to stay
there with “their people”, it means the people they have been
serving until now, and are ready to help – cooperating with the Catholic Charity in Ukraine – in providing food and any support to the people in the case of the invasion (we firmly hope there will be no invasion). What would Mary Ward do? – Anastasia said – she would not run away and we want to stay with people in need, this is our way and our spirituality, she said.

I would like to ask you, if convenient, the whole Mary Ward family for prayers for our 8 Slovak and Ukraine CJ members in Ukraine: in Kyiv, Uzghorod and Seredne.”

Both leadership teams of the IBVM and the CJ support this request very strongly hoping that war can be avoided and that negotiations of the political leaders will find other ways to resolve the conflict.

Thank you very much indeed for your prayers for our sisters and for all the people of Ukraine and please invite any other members of the Mary Ward family known to you to add their prayers to ours

The leadership teams of CJ and IBVM in Rome

Sister Imelda Poole, President of RENATE, interviewed on the ongoing work to fight human trafficking


Source: Talitha Kum

15 FEBRUARY 2022


How did you get involved in the work against modern-day slavery? What were your first steps?

My congregation is IBVM (Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary), founded 400 years ago by Mary Ward. 17 years ago, a very courageous decision was made to open a new community outside the province’s boundaries. With the help of international organizations, we founded a new community in Albania. When we asked the Archbishop of Tirana what he thought we were called to do in Albania, he said “Sisters, will you please accept the mission to combat human trafficking for the church in Albania. We have hundreds of young Albanians being kidnapped and sold into the slavery of sex trade and sex work in the streets of Italy. Many are brutalized and traumatized”. That is how we started our work.

After we began working with Caritas here in Tirana, we set up a shelter for trafficked victims who came back from Italy. The National Conference of Religious in Albania invited me to Rome to be part of the international team of sisters and brothers working against human trafficking. At that conference, it was decided that an organization would be founded under UISG as the new international network of religious sisters working against human trafficking. At that point, Europe had no network. Five of us from Europe met in London, and eventually, many other sisters joined us for our first international European meeting. We established a network called Renate, Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation. The UISG international body accompanied our launch and led the way internationally on campaigns against human trafficking.

As the International Prayer Day of Saint Bakhita is approaching on the 8th of February, what are your plans to promote and spread the message across the world?

It is a very important day for us, being united with sisters working against human trafficking across the world. The theme of this year, “the Power of Care”, is wonderful and very deep. As the current economy does not support vulnerable women, especially those who have been trafficked, it is crucial to work with women against human trafficking, by empowering them and accompanying their work insertion. What brings people to life is kindness and love.  The nurturing of women and their economic inclusion is key to ensuring that they will never be at risk of human trafficking. We from Renate are making small videos for February 8th, mostly with young sisters and employees running shelters. At the core of our videos are survivors’ voices. Then, we send those videos to the international network body, Talitha Kum. They prepare for a 24 hours marathon of prayer. We are currently fulfilling our invitation to participate in the event through our videos.  Europe will have its voice represented with the survivors leading the way.

If you were to be remembered for one thing, what would it be?

The one thing I would want to be remembered for is contributing to building a world for care, based on kindness. I truly believe that we become whole through companionship, collaboration, and networks. Nobody achieves anything alone, especially when trying to fight against national and international groups committing hideous crimes such as human trafficking. The only way to go forward is to know that together, through love and kindness, our work will foster real positive change.

Where can we find out more about your work and get in touch with you online?

Renate has its own website that you can easily access: If you go through Google, you should type “Renate Network” and not just “Renate”, otherwise you will get a million other “Renates” from around the world. Another alternative is to type my name, Imelda Poole, on Google and you will find Renate’s website. We are also present on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.  Because I work in Albania, we have another foundation against human trafficking, where we do a lot of prevention work.   Our Albanian website is and the foundation is called Mary Ward Loreto. Do come and join us online, it would be wonderful.

Auxiliary Bishop Puff: “Human trafficking should not be profitable!”


Santa Marta Group Releases Appeal Against Business Trafficking

COLOGNE, February 10, 2022 / (Catholic News Agency -German).-

At the first European meeting of the Santa Marta Group, the auxiliary bishop from Cologne, Ansgar Puff, called for the crime of human trafficking to be deprived of its financial basis.

The meeting took place on February 8th and 9th in Cologne – at the invitation of the Archdiocese and the Migration Commission of the Bishops’ Conference.


Speakers from the police, victim support, science and politics, such as Wolfgang Spadinger (Task Force Human Trafficking in the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs), emphasized the importance of cooperation in all areas of combating human trafficking. “An effective fight against modern slavery can only be achieved across borders and sectors,” summarized Auxiliary Bishop Puff. “We also have to include the perspective of the home countries of victims and start with the churches’ help at the beginning of the chain of exploitation and enslavement. New laws alone will not solve the problem.”


In a heated discussion about the role of employers and workers’ organizations, Prof. Ulrich Hemel, Chairman of the Federation of Catholic Entrepreneurs (BKU), and Jeroen Beirnaert from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) agreed that a mixture of regulation, effective monitoring of existing laws and Individual responsibility of companies and consumers is required.


Prof. Joachim von Braun (President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences) also pointed out that activities to combat human trafficking need to be strengthened in many areas. Thomas Wissing (ILO) underpinned this and drew attention to the importance of education and a grievance mechanism for victims, where they might also be able to claim compensation. Archbishop Hess summed it up: “The variety of perspectives at the conference made it clear to us how important this exchange is. At the same time, the church as a worldwide network can be an important source of inspiration for exchange.”


The session was chaired by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Santa Marta Group and Chair of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, as well as long-time Special Adviser to the Santa Marta Group, Kevin Hyland (OBE), Irish member of the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA).

Hyland called for more attention to the impact of human trafficking in everyday life to increase awareness of victims and stressed the importance of European and national supply chain laws. He summarized the goal of the Santa Marta Group in the concise formula “leadership by example” – setting a good example and thus convincing many.


Action Plan presented

The aim of the online event with over 100 participants from 23 countries was to promote cooperation between the church, the police and other actors. For this purpose, an action plan was presented and discussed, which identifies core problems and steps to be taken to combat human trafficking.

The action plan contains recommendations for eight areas of victim protection and crime prevention. Among other things, the Santa Marta Group and the German Bishops’ Conference call for the crime of human trafficking to be made more visible to the public. “The topic of human trafficking and exploitation must reach the centre of society so that the crime is seen and understood as a problem,” said Auxiliary Bishop Ansgar Puff (Cologne), Chairman of the Human Trafficking Working Group of the German Bishops’ Conference.


Sufficient state funds are necessary, among other things, to create specialized departments in police and law enforcement agencies and to train specialists.

If illegal profits from exploitation and slavery could be confiscated, this not only made it possible to compensate the victims, but also increased the risk for the perpetrators. Because “Human trafficking must not be profitable!“, Auxiliary Bishop Puff said literally.

The Santa Marta Group and the German Bishops’ Conference announced that they would present the action plan to political representatives after the discussions had been evaluated and that they would like to introduce it to the next international conference of the Santa Marta Group.

In his welcome speech, Archbishop Stefan Hesse, chairman of the Bishops’ Conference’s Migration Commission of Hamburg, said “the Church still has many opportunities to intensify the fight against exploitation.”


Keyword Santa Marta Group

Pope Francis has made the fight against slavery and human trafficking a priority of his pontificate. In 2019, for example, the Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development published the “Pastoral Guidelines on Trafficking in Human Beings”, which provide valuable assistance for international work in this area.

The Santa Marta Group is a cooperation of high-ranking church representatives and organizations, police officers from over 30 countries and other governmental and non-governmental organizations who have met every two years in the Vatican since 2014 at the invitation of Pope Francis and on the initiative of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. The aim of the group is to develop “common and effective strategies” by state and civil society actors against human trafficking and exploitation.



Photo: Raimond Spekking / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0 )



2022 marks ten years since the launch of the Dhaka Principles, a framework for migration with dignity.  As we consider the big picture around modern slavery and labour exploitation in our world today, this model gives us an excellent framework for the developing work around due diligence and corporate responsibility that many human rights and anti-trafficking organisations are currently discussing.


The Dhaka Principles provide a roadmap that traces a migrant worker from recruitment, through employment, to the end of contract. They provide key principles that employers and migrant recruiters should respect at each stage in the process to ensure migration with dignity. 


The Dhaka Principles for Migration with Dignity (the “Dhaka Principles”) are a set of human rights based principles to enhance respect for the rights of migrant workers from the moment of recruitment, during overseas employment, and through to further employment or safe return to home countries. They are intended for use by all industry sectors and in any country where workers migrate either inwards or outwards.

Journey to St. Bakhita


St. Bakhita has become the patron saint of victims of human trafficking and is coming to to help to all who suffer. Every year since 2015, we pray on the day of her feast day, February 8, and in the light of her life experience, we pray for all those enslaved in Slovakia and in the entire world. Her inspiring story appeals to us so much that we decided to visit the place in Italy she spent over 40 years of her life.

Bakhita is close to us despite her remote origins, different culture or color of her skin. The locals in Schio called her “Madre Moretta” (dark mother), because until then they had no experience with religious of such distant culture in their region. At first, the children were even afraid of her until they got to know her better. We also went to get to know her a little better and we had the opportunity to listen to many inspiring moments that happened in her life. And so it is not just her locket of the Virgin Mary of the Seven Sorrows, the patron saint of Slovakia, that can bring this saint close to us. 


A small town surrounded by mountains is located in northern Italy in the province of Vicenza. St. Bakhita spent here in the Kanosian Monastery about 45 years after gaining her freedom. Before the pandemic, 23,000 visitors came to Bakhita’s grave in Schio every year. Now the temple was almost empty, so the Canossian sisters could pay generous attention to us and tell the stories and miracles that come with their fellow sister. Charity on the road… Beginning of the journey of St. Bakhity to freedom

From Sudan to Schia 

Journey of st. Bakhita from slavery to freedom was long and painful. She passed through several hands of violent merchants. In her story, there were also moments of hope in the escape, which, however, ended up again in the yoke of another merchant. She was sold 5 times and scarred by 114 wounds until she got from her home village near Darfur to the port of Suakin, from where she could travel to Europe.  The key people on her path to freedom were, as we have learned, Mr Legnani and Mr Micchieli. They made sure that Bakhita no longer suffered from the inhuman treatment of her masters. Legnani, the Italian consul in Sudan, bought young slaves and gave them freedom. He also bought Bakhita from a cruel Turkish general and wanted to release her. However, Bakhita did not remember the name of the village she came from, just as she did not remember her real name. She therefore asked Mr. Legnani to take her to his country, which he agreed to upon her great urgency. In Italy Mr. Legnani passed her on to his friend Michieli’s family, where they treated her with respect. She “met Christ” for the first time in their house. It was in the form of a small crucifix that impressed her so much that she wanted to get to know better the one who seemed to suffer so much more than she did. Her great desire led her to religious devotion. After finally gaining her freedom, she decided to give her life to God as “her only Lord.” She spent her first religious years in Venice, later in Schio.

Church of St. family in Schio 

St. Jozefína Bakhita spent 45 years in Schio, working as a cook, porter and church clerk. She spent hours in prayer at the church. Sister Laura mentioned to us an episode of her fellow sisters in the church: Elder Bakhita was already in a wheelchair and needed sisters´ assistance. Once they left her praying in the temple and forgot about her. When they returned four hours later worried and remorsed, they found her still praying peacefully. She told them simply: Why are you upset? Don’t you know that I am here with my Lord? 

Tomb of St. Bakhity 

Inside the tombstone of the lying figure there is a box with stored bones of St. Bakhita. The statue depicts young Bakhita, after her arrival in Schio, when she was about 33 years old. We have heard a number of stories and miracles of St. Bakhita from her co-sisters, the Canosians, who spoke of her as if she were still among them: 

When Madre Bakhita saw two students stealing fruit from a tree in their garden, she simply told them, “The Lord sees everything.” From the moment she met Him, she always referred to Him. 

We also learned that the founder of the Canossian Order, Maddalena di Canossa, was a marquise, so the decorative cap that st. Bakhita wore was a sign of the aristocracy and originally a natural part of their habit. 

Miracles of St. Bakhita

Sv. Josephine Bakhita had the gift of prophecy, and miracles were already happening during her lifetime. Museum of St. Bakhita at the Canosian Institute is full of well-documented miracles that have happened up to this day. To her beatification in In 1993, there were more than 200 miracles from which they could not choose, so they chose one by a draw. It was a miracle that happened to her co-sister. 

Virtues of St. Bakhita

Once Bakhita was asked what she would do if she met her former kidnappers. She replied, “If I were to meet those who abducted me, and even those who exploited me, I would kneel and kiss their hands. For if these things had not happened, I would not become a Christian and a religious today. ”Three virtues are revealed from this one statement. First of all, it shows her forgiveness: she has long since broken any chains of hatred and bitterness. It further reveals her faith: she saw how God’s mysterious providence works even in the worst of suffering. In the end, it illustrates her gratitude: she was deeply grateful for finding her way to God and becoming a nun. 

Bakhita never said anything bad about others, “never in her life!” Even with the miracles that have happened during her lifetime, she always said, do not worship me, but my Lord. He did it.

She even mocked herself e.g. when they took her measures for a religious habit, she laughed, “It will be easy to take my measures, I’m as flat as a board.”


Farewell to St. Bakhita 

At the end of the visit, we had a unique opportunity to meet an elderly lady, who had experienced Bakhita personally and still goes to the grave of “her friend”. She remembers her from her school days when she came to the canosian school, where St. Bakhita was a porter at the time. 


St. John Paul II called her a “woman of forgiveness and reconciliation.” As the sister stressed to us several times St. Bakhita was a woman par excellence free.” There was not a bit of hatred in her that would bound her.

Auxiliary Bishop Puff: “Society must not accept human trafficking”


It should no longer be acceptable for civil society that there are more than 40 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, says Cologne auxiliary bishop Ansgar Puff. The so-called Santa Marta Group has therefore developed recommendations for action.

Cologne – 09.02.2022

In the fight against human trafficking, Catholic bishops are calling for a change in awareness and greater commitment from society. “It must simply no longer be acceptable for civil society that there are more than 40 million victims worldwide,” said the chairman of the working group of the German Bishops’ Conference, Cologne auxiliary bishop Ansgar Puff, to journalists on Wednesday. “And that has to become so ingrained in the consciousness of civil society that everyone says: That must and can no longer exist.”

The first European conference of the so-called Santa Marta group took place from Tuesday to Wednesday. It is a collaboration of high-ranking church officials, law enforcement officials and other organizations initiated by Pope Francis with the aim of ending human trafficking and modern slavery. The Archdiocese of Cologne had invited to the first conference at European level with over 100 participants from around 20 countries. Because of the pandemic, it took place online.

Archbishop Stefan Hesse, chairman of the migration commission of the German Catholic bishops, said that action against human trafficking must be transnational. The churches also have a responsibility here. During the conference, the association worked on an action plan that should be published in the coming days.

Eight recommendations for action

According to Hesse, the eight recommendations for action include making victims of human trafficking visible and rehabilitating them. Those affected also need exit strategies, financial support and secure access to justice.

According to the Archbishop, another goal is compliance with standards in supply chains that do not involve exploitative production. Any form of human trafficking must be punished and combated. Both the bishops’ conference and political representatives at European level should be informed about the results.

Ivonne van de Kar from the European network for religious “RENATE” (Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation) referred to the role model function of church institutions. She also called for more attention to be paid to people affected by human trafficking. “You can’t see what you don’t know about,” she said. (KNA)

Catholic German News, Cologne – 09.02.2022