Pope Francis calls human trafficking 'a crime against humanity'

Pope Francis at the general audience Jan 31 2018 Credit Daniel Ibez CNA Pope Francis at the general audience Jan. 31, 2018. | Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Pope Francis said Thursday that human trafficking is, "without doubt," a crime against humanity for its violation of human dignity and freedom.

Trafficking, he said April 11, "constitutes an unjustifiable violation of the freedom and dignity of the victims, constitutive dimensions of the human being wanted and created by God. This is why it is considered a crime against humanity."

"Trafficking seriously damages humanity as a whole, tearing apart the human family and the Body of Christ," the pope stated.

Francis said trafficking in people is the worst manifestation of the commodification of others. It not only hurts victims, but it destroys the humanity of those doing the trafficking or taking advantage of victims, because it denies them access to the abundant life of Jesus.

"The Son of God became man to indicate to all human beings the path of realization of their humanity, in conformity with the uniqueness and unrepeatability of each one," he explained. "Unfortunately, the present world is sadly characterized by situations that hinder the fulfillment of this mission."

Pope Francis spoke to the participants of an international conference on the implementation of a handbook published in January by the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

Called "Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking," the handbook has 10 sections, each analyzing human trafficking from a different angle and providing recommendations ranging from targeting and prosecuting consumers of human trafficking to aiding in the full spiritual and psychological recovery of its victims.

The conference ran from April 8-11 in Rome and had the participation of over 150 people, among them representatives of Catholic charitable organizations, religious orders, and bishops' conferences.

Meeting talks were sandwiched by prayer and Mass, and the first full day ended with a candlelit prayer vigil for victims of human trafficking.

Pope Francis told conference participants that their presence "is a tangible sign of the commitment that many local Churches have generously assumed in this pastoral field."

He highlighted the work of religious congregations in the fight against human trafficking. They operate as a "vanguard" of the Church's missionary action against all types of trafficking, he stated.

"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," he said. "Persevere in this mission, which is often risky and unknown."

The pope went on to note that though much has been done against trafficking, there is still more to do, and urged cooperation and coordination between local Churches, religious congregations, and Catholic organizations.

He also called them to accept help from outside organizations, governments, and civil society to ensure their work is as effective as possible.

"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 Jesus Christ," he stated, noting the work of those fighting against trafficking and the "missionary value" evident in that.

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