Pope decries “modern-day scourge” of human trafficking

| February 9th, 2018

On Friday Pope Francis received members of the Santa Marta Group, an organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking and modern day slavery.

By Christopher Wells

Human trafficking is a “modern-day scourge, which continues to cause untold human suffering,” Pope Francis said on Friday.

The Holy Father was speaking to members of the Santa Marta Group, “an alliance of international police chiefs and bishops from around the world working together with civil society in a process endorsed by Pope Francis, to eradicate human trafficking and modern day slavery.” The Group, which this week held its Fifth Conference in Rome,” was developed by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference for England and Wales (CBCEW).

In his address to participants in the Conference, Pope Francis said, “It is my hope that these days of reflection and shared experiences have brought into clearer light the interplay between the global and local aspects of human trafficking.” He noted, “to our scandal and shame,” that human trafficking is far more widespread than was previously acknowledged, especially in more prosperous societies.

The Pope focused on efforts to explore “the various forms of complicity by which society tolerates, and encourages, particularly with regard to the sex trade, the exploitation of vulnerable men, women and children.” He said not only must society work to “dismantle criminal structures” that make human trafficking, it must also address larger issues that create the environment in which human trafficking is allowed to flourish. In particular, he pointed to “the responsible use of technology and communications media”; but he also mentioned the importance of questioning economic models that tend “to privilege profits over persons.”

He said the Church is grateful “for every effort made to bring the balm of God’s mercy to the suffering, for this also represents an essential step in the healing and renewal of society as a whole,” and encouraged participants in their work to raise awareness of the need to support victims of human trafficking.