Pope Francis: Human Trafficking, an open wound on society

The Catholic Church in England and Wales

Pope Francis meets with victims of human trafficking

Vatican Radio
Vatican Radio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Human trafficking is an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ. It is a crime against humanity”: These were the strong words that Pope Francis addressed to participants at the conference on ‘Combating Human Trafficking’ on Thursday morning.

The conference is the brainchild of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales in collaboration with the UK Police Force and was hosted by the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences. Thanking Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Pope noted that the meeting also draws on the expertise of law enforcement authorities, who he said: “are primarily responsible for combating this tragic reality by a vigorous application of the law”.

But, continued Pope Francis, “it also includes humanitarian and social workers, whose task it is to provide victims with welcome, human warmth and the possibility of building a new life. These are two different approaches, but they can and must go together”.

One of the participants at the conference is Nigerian Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, the Archbishop of Abuja. He has been engaged in the battle against human trafficking for decades together with missionaries, religious and lay activists whom he calls the real “foot soldiers”.

He told participants: “The Gospel of God’s mercy, freedom and love, preached by the Church, is rejected in practice, with human beings being treated as slaves”.

“The Church has a responsibility on all levels,” he said. “When we see young boys and girls being sold for money, believing that money will lead to a good life, we need to start teaching them about what real freedom is about, what true happiness is about and what the true meaning of life is.”

Pope’s Full Address

Here’s Pope Francis’ address to participants at the conference on ‘Combating Human Trafficking’:

Your Eminences,
Brother Bishops and Priests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I greet each of you participating in this Conference, the second such gathering held here in the Vatican to promote united efforts against human trafficking. I thank Cardinal Nichols and the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales for organizing this meeting, and the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences for hosting it.

Human trafficking is an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ. It is a crime against humanity. The very fact of our being here to combine our efforts means that we want our strategies and areas of expertise to be accompanied and reinforced by the mercy of the Gospel, by closeness to the men and women who are victims of this crime.

Our meeting today includes law enforcement authorities, who are primarily responsible for combating this tragic reality by a vigorous application of the law. It also includes humanitarian and social workers, whose task it is to provide victims with welcome, human warmth and the possibility of building a new life. These are two different approaches, but they can and must go together. To dialogue and exchange views on the basis of these two complementary approaches is quite important. Conferences such as this are extremely helpful, and, I would say, much needed.

I believe that one important sign of this is the fact that, one year after your first meeting, you have regrouped from throughout the world in order to advance your common efforts. I thank you for your readiness to work together. I pray that our Lord will assist you and that Our Lady will watch over you.

 

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