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Pope Francis speaks out on human trafficking

By on Thursday, 12 December 2013

Pope Francis (CNS)

Pope Francis (CNS)

The trafficking of human beings is a crime against humanity and must be stopped, Pope Francis has told a group of diplomats.

“It’s a disgrace” that people are treated “as objects, deceived, raped, often sold many times for different purposes and, in the end, killed or, in any case, physically and mentally damaged, ending up thrown away and abandoned,” he said.

The Pope made the comments in a speech earlier today to 17 new ambassadors to the Vatican who were presenting their letters of credential to the Pontiff. Among the 17 were ambassadors representing the state of Palestine, Kuwait, Sierra Leone and Iceland.

Speaking to the group of diplomats, the Pope dedicated his entire talk to human trafficking because, he said, it is “an issue that worries me very much and today is threatening people’s dignity.”

Every country in the world is touched in some way by this new form of slavery, which often targets the most vulnerable members of society: women, children, the disabled, the poor and people from broken homes or other difficult situations, he said.

Even those who have no religious beliefs should be concerned about victims of human trafficking out of pure “compassion for their suffering” and should help work to free them and soothe their wounds, he said.

“This cannot go on,” he said, adding that human trafficking “constitutes a serious violation of human rights and is an affront to (victims’) dignity as well as a loss for the world community.”

“Together we can and we must commit ourselves so they may be freed and this horrible trade can be put to an end,” Pope Francis said.

“Human trafficking is a crime against humanity. We must unite our efforts to free victims and stop this crime that’s become ever more aggressive, that threatens not just individuals, but the foundational values of society,” international security and laws, the economy, families and communities, he said.

Pope Francis recognised the many efforts underway around the world to prevent trafficking and protect victims.

Even though countries have been addressing the problem, he said, “we can’t deny that sometimes even public officials and members of peacekeeping forces have been contaminated” by the corrupting forces of trafficking (The account by a former peacekeeper denouncing her colleagues’ complicity in trafficking in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the late 1990s was the basis for the 2011 film The Whistleblower).

Together with laws, something must be done to address cultural considerations and communication, he said. “There is a need for a deep examination of conscience: how many times, in fact, do we tolerate human beings being considered an object, exposed to sell something or to satisfy immoral desires?”

People must never be bought or sold like a piece of merchandise and anyone “who uses or exploits (a person), even indirectly, becomes an accomplice to this oppression,” he continued.

The Pope said he firmly believed something can be done “because I believe in the value and strength of a concerted effort at combating (trafficking).”

He called for more cooperation and effective strategies, a common sense of responsibility and “a more decisive political will” to stop trafficking.

Often human trafficking is connected with “the drug and arms trades, the illegal transport of immigrants and the mafia,” he said, and more needs to be done to help victims, to protect their rights and safety, and to stop “the corrupt and the criminal” from evading justice.

“Adequate legislative measures in countries of origin, transit and destination, including facilitating legal immigration, can reduce the problem,” he said.

  • Paul

    Bless you Pope Francis, you are a pinnacle of hope in these dark times. In truth I tell you that men have come accustomed to the dark. If what you preach is darkness and falsehood, how dark are you really inside? But when you speak in the truth and light of God, how blessed are you in receiving the wisdom of God. In the final moment all will be shown in the light and all knowledge and the hidden yearnings of mens hearts will be shown to the world. I thank and bless you father for Pope Francis, may he be a sign of your Love to the world.

  • Chris


  • Linda Harpe-Turner

    I would like to know specifically what the church is doing to help the victims. It’s one thing to say that legislators should do more but actions speak louder than words. With all due respect, it’s one thing to point your finger at others but if the church does not lead the way with practical and concrete actions, then how can they expect others to follow? He talks about what wrongs others are doing, but he never says how they are correcting their wrongs. For example, the Catholic church still continues to withhold funding for Residential School survivors. How many survivors continue to feel like they have been “thrown away and abandoned”? The legacy of the Res. Schools continue to put our women and children at risk for sex slavery, trafficking, rapes and murders. Praying he ‘puts his money where his mouth is’.