Thursday, April 11, 2019

Words about Human Trafficking

At noon today in Rome (6:00am EDT), in the New Synod Hall at the Vatican, the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience those who are participating in the International Conference on Human Trafficking, organized by the Section for Migrants and Refugees, part of the Dicastery for Integral Human Services.  The Conference took place from 8 to 11 April at the Fraterna Domus in Scarofano).

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
addressed to the International Conference
on Human Trafficking

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Thank you for inviting me to meet you at the end of your conference dedicated to the implementation of the Pastoral Guidelines on Human Trafficking, published by the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Integral Human Services, and approved by me. I thank Father Michael Czerny for the words he addressed to me on behalf of all the participants.

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (Jn 10:10). In this sentence from the Gospel of John, the mission of Jesus is summarized: to offer all men and women of every age life in its fullness, according to the Father's plan. The Son of God became man in order to indicate to all human beings the path of fulfilling of their humanity, in conformity with the uniqueness and unrepeatability of each one.

Unfortunately, the present world is sadly characterized by situations that hinder the fulfillment of this mission. As evidenced by the Pastoral Guidelines on the Trafficking of Persons, our times have marked a growth of individualism and egocentrism, attitudes that tend to consider others in a merely utilitarian perspective, attributing to them a value according to criteria of convenience and personal advantage (n. 17).

It is essentially that tendency to commodification of the other, which I have repeatedly denounced (cf Speech to participants taking part in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council of Culture, 7 February 2015; General Audience, 22 April 2015; Amoris Laetitia, 54; Speech to members of the Parliamentary Commission against the Mafia, 21 September 2017). Human Trafficking is one of the most dramatic manifestations of this commodification. It, in its many forms, constitutes a wound in the body of contemporary humanity, (Speech to participants taking part in the International Conference on Human Trafficking, 10 April 2014) a profound scourge in the humanity of those who suffer it and those who implement it. Indeed, trafficking disfigures the humanity of the victim, offending his or her freedom and dignity. But, at the same time, it dehumanizes those who perform it, denying them access to life in abundance. Finally, trafficking seriously damages humanity as a whole, tearing apart the human family and even the Body of Christ.

Trafficking - we said - constitutes an unjustifiable violation of the freedom and dignity of the victims, constitutive dimensions of the human being desired and created by God. For this reason it is to be considered a crime against humanity (cf Speech to a group of new Ambassadors on the occasion of the presentation of their Credentials, 12 December 2013; Speech to the Delegation from the International Association of Penal Rights, 23 October 2014; Message to participants taking part in the Conference on Human Trafficking organized by the Santa Marta Group, 30-31 October 2015; Speech to participants taking part in the meeting on Human Trafficking organized by RENATE, 7 November 2016; Greetings to participants taking part in the IV World Day of Prayer and Reflection against Human Trafficking, 12 February 2018; Pre-synodal Meeting with young people, 19 March 2018; Video Message to participants taking part in the II International Forum on Modern Slavery, 5-8 May 2018; Speech to participants taking part in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Assembly of Sciences, 12 November 2018; Greetings to members of the Galileo Foundation, 8 February 2019).  And this without doubting. The same gravity, by analogy, must be attributed to the contempt of freedom and dignity of every human being, whether he is a compatriot or a foreigner.

Those who are guilty of this crime cause damage not only to others but also to themselves. In fact, each of us is created to love and care for others, and this reaches its climax in the gift of self: No one has greater love than this: to give his life for his friends (Jn 15, 13). In the relationship that we establish with others we play our humanity, approaching or moving away from the model of the human being wanted by God the Father and revealed in the incarnate Son. Therefore, every choice contrary to the realization of God's plan for us is a betrayal of our humanity and renounces the life in abundance offered by Jesus Christ. It is like climbing the ladder downhill, going down, becoming animals.

All actions that aim to restore and promote our humanity and that of others are in line with the mission of the Church, as a continuation of the saving mission of Christ. And this missionary value is evident in the struggle against all forms of trafficking and in our commitment towards the redemption of all survivors; a struggle and a commitment that also have beneficial effects on our own humanity, opening the way to the fullness of life, the ultimate end of our existence.

Your presence, dear brothers and sisters, is a tangible sign of the commitment that many local Churches have generously assumed in this pastoral field. The numerous initiatives that see you on the front line in order to prevent trafficking, protect survivors and prosecute offenders are worthy of admiration. I feel I must express special thanks to the many religious congregations that have worked - and continue to operate, even online, as avant-garde of the Church's missionary action against all forms of trafficking.

Much has been done and is being done, but much remains to be done. Faced with a phenomenon as complex as it is obscure, such as human trafficking, it is essential to ensure the coordination of the various pastoral initiatives, both locally and internationally. The offices in charge of the local Churches, religious congregations and Catholic organizations are called to share experiences and knowledge and to unite their forces, in a synergistic action that concerns the countries of origin, transit and destination of the persons being trafficked.

To make its action more adequate and effective, the Church must know how to make use of the help of other political and social actors. The stipulation of structured collaboration with institutions and other civil society organizations will guarantee more incisive and lasting results.

I sincerely thank you for what you are already doing on behalf of so many of our brothers and sisters, innocent victims of the commodification of the human person, we say these words, without shame: the commodification of the human person. We have to say them and underline them because this is the truth. I encourage you to persevere in this mission, which is often risky and anonymous. Risky for the laity, but also for religious. It's risky even inside the religious congregation, because they look at you wrong! The nuns say yes. It's risky, but you have to move on. It is anonymous, but precisely because of this irrefutable proof of your gratuitousness.

Through the intercession of Saint Josephine Bakhita, who was reduced to slavery as a child, bought and sold, but then liberated and flourished in fullness as God's daughter, I pray for you, I invoke abundant blessings on all of you and on those who are committed to fighting against these threats. I assure you of my remembrance. I pray for you. And you, please, don't forget to pray for me.

Thank you.
Original text in Italian
Texto en espaƱol

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