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Sr. Claudette Bastien represented Canada at a forum in the Vatican concerning migrants and refugees

The work being done by Canadian organizations such as Cathii which fight against human trafficking sparked a great deal of interest among the fifty participants last July, in Rome, at the international gathering regarding Migrants and Refugees, a section in the Dicastery which promotes integral and human development.  The presentation by Sr. Claudette Bastien, official delegate of the Council of Canadian Bishops, shed light on concrete actions taken to tackle the many causes of this global phenomenon.

Her presentation was noted all the more because almost all the other presentations were more oriented towards ethics, morals and spirituality. Coincidently, the only other presentation along the same lines, was given by Sr. Colleen Jackons, RSC. , Member of ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans). She also represented the bishops of her country, Australia.

A very serious problem

Of the 48 participants, including 29 invited guests (Bishops, Brothers and four women, two of which were Religious). The seven-minute presentations allowed enough time to focus on the current intolerable global phenomenon and to provide material for reflection as advance preparation for the writing of a document providing directives to the Catholic Church and to civil society.

This document, due in the Spring of 2019, should contain new directives and recommendations to address the challenges of migrants and refugees as well as challenges regarding human trafficking. "The goal is to improve civil laws, train judges and police officers and continue to raise public awareness of this issue, which affects all of our communities, including our own in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and many other smaller cities.”

 Claudette Bastien, SNJM.

Some significant meetings

Following her participation last year at the Talitha Kum (an international network against human trafficking) meeting, Sr. Claudette’s presence at this Forum, convened by Pope Francis, has proven to be a rewarding experience in more ways than one."In addition to the content of the presentations, it was interesting to make connections between the realities of each country and to identify the sources of the problems. It was particularly fascinating to note the similarities of information presented by the ACRATH organization in Australia, and CATHII in Quebec. " 

“I was particularly moved by the sharing of a Congolese refugee, a former customs officer who fled from his country and had to leave his son behind.”  It iseems unbelievable that this man was caught, deported to several countries and tortured before finally settling in a European country. “This testimony and that of many others reveals so much human suffering which is hidden under the expression “migrants and refugees”, "rightly recalls this Sister, a long-time member of the Justice and Peace Committee of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM).
Sr. Claudette has another good reason for remembering her trip to Rome in July, 2018.  She actually shook Pope Francis’ hand during a special celebration in commemoration of the sinking of a refugee ship, five years earlier, near the Italian island of Lampedusa.  Some 200 people, many of whom were affected by the tragedy, attended the celebration.  This once again demonstrated the Pope’s sensitivity to this current, burning issue.

In conclusion, let us highlight that the Canadian Council of Bishops had asked CATHII (Action Cmmittee against Internal and International Human Trafficking) to send someone to represent them at the Dicastery. The Canadian bishops considered this organization the best suited to offer a significant contribution to the debate.  Thus, CATHII designated Sr. Claudette Bastien SNJM, one of the founders of this organization, as the official representative. 

Click on the Pdf below to access Sr. Claudette's presentation in Rome.






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