2021-03-25 GENERAL HOUSE

25 March: International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery

Human history is dotted with men and women, boys and girls, who were victims of slavery. There was a time when it was even seen as normal. Remember how St. Paul, in his letter to the Galatians (Gal 3:28), recalled this distinction, and called for the elimination of differences, promoting the unity of every human being in Christ Jesus.

Centuries later, and for hundreds of years, the slave trade from Africa to America became a sad reality. Millions of Africans were forcibly taken from their homes to become slaves. A reality that even today can still be perceived in the social differences in several countries of the American continent.

The aim of celebrating this day is to remember all the people who suffered this scourge, at different historical times. It is also to raise awareness of the dangers of racism in our world today, in any of our societies and in its different forms.

It is worth remembering that slavery implies the loss of all kinds of rights for the people who suffer it. Human dignity is crushed, eliminated. The person becomes a mere instrument at the service of his or her “owner”. A forced service, always, without voice, without rights. People as mere merchandise.

Slavery is historically linked to poverty, being its main cause, although it is not the only one. Paying debts, losing a battle, convictions for breaking the law… are other reasons why a person could become a slave.

A few months ago, Pope Francis published the encyclical Fratelli Tutti, inviting all Christians and the whole of society to establish a new order. How can we live this universal fraternity if we maintain divisions? How can we treat “my brother and my sister” in an unworthy manner? How can we continue with racism, with contempt for “the other”, because of his race, or his religion, or his culture, or his gender…? As Christians and as Marists we are called to respond to the appeal of the Pope, to the appeal of Christ, to universal fraternity.

Also today, as Marists, we are called from our educational centres to work in favour of this universal equality. We feel the challenge of working for the integral development of the person, of every person. We have in our Marist DNA the memory of Marcellin fighting for the full dignity of every human being, especially those who are most vulnerable.

Even today there are children forced to work, there are girls who are sexually exploited, migrants who are prisoners of human trafficking mafias. Slavery, unfortunately, is still present in various forms in our world. It is up to us, Marists of Champagnat, to continue to respond to these situations. Hundreds of Marists working for children without resources, Marist presences among those who are forced to emigrate, brothers and laypeople who give their lives to those who suffer the consequences of wars and poverty?

Let us give thanks to God for so much work well done, and let us ask Him for the necessary strength to continue to face the challenges with which our societies present us, so that the human being, every human being, can recover his or her dignity.

Br Ángel Diego, Director of the Solidarity Secretariat


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