• “The grave issue of modern slavery and human trafficking”, which “continues to be a scourge throughout the world today”, is a true “crime against humanity”. Pope Francis wrote addressed the issue of human trafficking a message to Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations Organization, for the conference held on Thursday, 7 April, in New York.
    In the English text, the Pontiff expressed his satisfaction at the initiative, organization in collaboration of the “Santa Marta Group”, an alliance of police and Catholic bishops from around the world who work in civil society in order to eradicate human trafficking and guarantee pastoral care for victims. The group met for the first time in April 2014 at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, which Pope Francis chose as his residence; on that occasion the Pontiff called human trafficking an open wound for contemporary society. The group also met in December 2014 in London and in October 2015 in Madrid.
    In his message, Francis expresses his gratitude to the member-States of the UN and to other governing bodies, both civic and religious, which are “committed to combatting this crime against humanity”. He also encouraged these organizations to “strengthen the bonds of cooperation and communication which are essential to ending the suffering of the many men, women and children who today are enslaved and sold as if they were a mere commodity”. In this way, he writes, “solutions and preventative measures can be promoted which will allow this evil to be addressed at every level of society”.
    With regards to this topic, the Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030, which was recently approved, reads: “Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms” (n. 8.7). The Pope also expressed his wish that “the dignity of every person” remained at the centre of the discussion, recognizing “in all your endeavours a true service to the poorest and most marginalized of society, who too often are forgotten and have no voice”.
    Lastly the Pontiff assured the Archbishop and all the conference participants “of the steadfast commitment of the Catholic Church to fight against this crime and to care for all its victims, I offer the promise of my prayers that Almighty God may bless and guide your efforts”.
    Source: Osservatore Romano