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Ashes for atrocities

By Fred Hiltz on March, 06 2017

(This article first appeared in the March 2017 issue of the Anglican Journal.)

Consider this statistic: 45 million people worldwide are captive in modern-day slavery. Two million of them are children. 

Consider this fact: Canada is known as a source, transit and destination country for trafficking people for the billion-dollar global sex trade and for other forms of exploitative labour. Poor urban Canadian children and female teens, especially young Indigenous women, are particularly vulnerable.

Consider this great truth: “Human beings are not for sale.” That’s how our Lutheran brothers and sisters grab our attention in addressing human trafficking.

The theme of the 2016  Canadian Lutheran-Anglican Youth gathering helped bring attention to human trafficking. Image: claygathering.ca

In responding to a call from the Anglican Consultative Council to develop strategies—local, regional and global—to rid the world of this evil, our church is committed to partnering with other churches, other faith-based organizations, civil society and government. 

This Communion-wide call is a powerful reminder to me that the season of Lent is not just about me and God and resetting that relationship. It is also about resetting our relationships within the human family in accord with our baptismal vow to “respect the dignity of every human being and to strive for justice and peace among all people.”

On that Wednesday when ashes are smeared on my forehead, I am mindful, more than ever, of our need to confess the sin of turning our eyes from those who suffer in modern-day slavery and from their oppressors. 

The Litany for Penitence puts it this way, “Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty” (Book of Alternative Services,
p. 284). 

More than ever, I am mindful of our need to take action in addressing this atrocity. The gospel compels us.


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By Fred Hiltz| March, 06 2017

About the Author

Fred Hiltz

Fred Hiltz

Archbishop Fred Hiltz is primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. 

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