On the 12 August last year, the Holy Father knocked at the door of a most humble apartment, within a large condominium, where we welcome in an emergency, the young women victims of trafficking and forced prostitution.
The unexpected visit is entered into the history of this humanity so much in need of gestures of love able to leave a mark for ever. In fact, in the heart of those twenty girls is impressed the sign of tenderness, of hugs, of emotion and of the words of forgiveness addressed to them by Pope Francis.
I remember as if it were today the incredible attention of the Pontiff in listening to the dramas of these daughters. He was astonished when the last arrived, welcomed in the house the evening before his visit, told him in a dialectal English how, along the path of trafficking, she had been forced to drink her own urine. And then the torture and the tragic end of her daughter died after childbirth on the road, at the edge of a footpath, in the indifference of so-called customers. The girl was crying and shouting for the pain while the Pope was hugging her to console the inconsolable suffering that still today, after one year, is not diminished.
Nobody is interested in these creatures, unfortunately not even some Catholics who admire the work inspired by don Benzi, except then remaining indifferent, together with so many people that wash their hands. Maybe someone will voice words of condemnation, but then only few people really act for these victims.
Even today, where the attention on the trafficking of women and men from African countries seems to be high, you do not hear words of condemnation on the real market of trafficking and slaves forced into prostitution, like juke-boxes used to produce profits for the racket active on our roads, with millions of customers who pay to meet their perversions.
Strangely, on forced prostitution, the institutions do not raise their voice to counteract the mercenaries who, every day, populate undisturbed the Italian streets, the various night clubs and brothels by selling thousands of these girls of whom 40% are under age.
That is why I remember the visit of Pope Francis, not for a mere commemoration, but to beg the leaders of the institutions to take interest in this human drama, to truly understand it, to realize that we are talking about people and not about objects, to come to look at them in their dull eyes and in their sole desire to no longer wanting to live.
They feel dirty, inadequate, they apologise for their existence, while we, arrogant and superficial, we believe to be who knows what. Abandoning the slaves, indeed pretending that they do not exist and let people devilishly believe that those women on the sidewalks are there because they like it, is an absolute disgrace.
Think of the stench of these hot evenings beside the rubbish… and them that cannot move because that is the part of the footpath paid by the racket, while the customers quickly pass to board a woman, a girl, perhaps of the same age of his own daughter or granddaughter. This is an unbearable injustice and therefore, I humbly appeal to His Holiness so that he may continue to raise with force his voice to save the many “Magdalene” condemned to derision and to slavery and perhaps may constitute a specific permanent observatory on enslaved prostitution, that may be primarily operational (not only beautiful words!), which interacts with all the institutions to intervene and to free the slaves of prostitution, because they can no longer wait.
We, of the Community Pope John XXIII, through our anti-trafficking sector, we carry out two extraordinary commitments that distinguish us: the first is the one of direct sharing that impels us to go find these young people on the streets of slavery to encourage them to escape from the criminals and accepting them protecting them in our homes; the other one is that of prayer and of the incessant search for eliminating the causes of this injustice.
For example, in Perugia, for fifteen years, every Saturday at midnight, we gather to recite the Rosary on the roads where these our sisters are, and together we pray with hope in our heart that their chains may break.
But all this is still not enough because of those who prefer to remain silent rather than to intervene. This silence is atrocious and deafening especially on the part of those women who are part of the institutions that while denouncing, rightly, the unheard violence suffered by young and elderly people, they forget about these creatures that seem instead not to have any value nor soften someone’s heart. I am aware of the extent to which my words can annoy and irritate the politically correct. I am very aware of it taking into consideration the intimidations received and to which I am accustomed.
But we cannot remain silent and, precisely because of this silence, the words of forgiveness spoken by the Pope to those who sometimes do not have even anymore the strength of hope, still resound stronger in my mind.
Thank you, Pope Francis, for Your precious words pronounced on 12 August 2016:
“I ask forgiveness for all Christians, Catholics who abused you and even forgiveness on my part for not having prayed so much for you and for this slavery.
Forgiveness for a society that does not understand.
Forgiveness for the leaders who ignore this…
For the Lord, each one of you is important, for God each one of you has the face of his suffering Son, who suffered on the cross and you too have suffered on the cross.
I ask forgiveness for the believers, the Christians who have abused you and I encourage you to look ahead.
Look ahead, in front of you there is the horizon, hope.
The Lord has made you feel that word, that question ‘how much do you suffer?’.
The Lord helped you with these brothers and sisters who work.
Thanks for the courage that you had, thanks.
Thanks for looking at life with hope and pray for me… because I can say the right things and give the right beatings!
Many thanks.” (Pope Francis)