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A desperate cry shook up the Roman night. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” She was “nailed” to a cross in front of the New Church, on the Vittorio Emanuele Street. Thousands of people were there and they felt a shiver running along their spine and their soul awakening all of a sudden, as if awakened from lethargy. That scream was one of the most touching moments of the Via Dolorosa in support of the victims of trafficking, the new sex slaves, the ‘prostitutes’ as they are hastily defined.

via crucis donne crocifisseWomen who come to Italy allured by a job only to be sent on the side of the road to serve the first passerby. They do not know anyone, they cannot protest. They have got no papers and often do not even speak our language; thus, they are kept prisoners by those who have uprooted them from their homeland to transform them into cannon fodder, frightened by the threats to harm their families, terrified of being victims of voodoo spells. Stories with which we live on our streets pretending not to know, because we do not want to see. We let ourselves be fooled by alluring manners, by the centimeters of bare skin, and we do not think about the fact that their horrible life, wasted on satisfying men’s most vulgar instincts – if these are the proper words – cannot be a “choice”, because no woman is born a prostitute.

Most of them are girls whose youth is destroyed, whose future is taken away; often, even they are deprived even of their intellect, thrown into the abyss of madness, the only way to flee from a life made of physical and psychological torture. Many of them are ashamed of what they do, they think about their mothers who are far away and the idea that they may find out what their daughters do makes them go crazy. Whereas we, children of the world that calls itself “civil”, turn away from them, thus insulting human dignity and absolving ourselves with the convenient lie that “they do it for money.” More than one girl in three (37%) are minors, often little more than children (from 13 to 17 years). It is not a matter of money, they do it because they are forced into prostitution.

Rome stopped to think about its huge hypocrisy, which shuts up these girls in ghettos and does not waste a word on the true accomplices of the torturers: the clients of prostitutes. There are 9,000,000 slavers who feed the market: without their demand, human trafficking would languish.

don aldo bonaiuto cardinale vallini romaThousands of people partook with songs and prayers in the Via Dolorosa in support of the crucified women, which had been organized by Father Aldo Buonaiuto from the Pope John XXIII Community. Next to him, there was Cardinal Vicar Agostino Vallini who brought Pope Francis’ greetings. Then, there was John Paul Ramonda, general manager of the Community Pope John XXIII; Don Fabio Rosini, Vocations Director of the Office of the Diocese of Rome and creator of the “10 commandments”; Matteo Truffelli, president of Catholic Action; Salvatore Martinez, President of Renewal in the Spirit; Raffaella De Marchis, the Neocatechumenal Way; Sister Eugenia Bonetti, head of the National Office is USMI; Father Maurizio Botta from “The 5 Steps”.

Yet, this Via Crucis was not limited to suffering, but rather a window open to hope. A dream about a different life, where those in need find an outstretched arm, such as that of  Father Oreste Benzi, founder of the Papa Giovanni XXIII, and that of his spiritual children who are currently present in many countries around the world to help thousands of young women to quit prostitution.

The Via Crucis was accompanied – besides the seven represented “stations” – by dance, music, singing, and acting. The capital has felt the kind of energy pulsing in its heart that can come only from faith. “Perhaps words demean moments like this – said Cardinal Vallini – but two of them have characterized this evening in particular: pardon and thank you. Forgiveness for silence, indifference, and even barren pity that accompanies the life of these girls. Rome has to change, because every creature is worth respect.”

“Then, thank you to Father Benzi’s big heart – he said – a tireless apostle of truth, and to those who understood the message and carry it on, experiencing existential peripheries – to put it in the Pope’s words – directly”.

Besides, thousands of people, flames that lit up the streets of the capital. With a clear commitment: to take the cross of the suffering and carry it instead of them, like Simon of Cyrene did.

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