Pope Francis has told new diplomatic representatives that human trafficking is “a crime against humanity” that affects society’s most vulnerable.
The Holy Father made the comments today in an address to sixteen new non-resident ambassadors and one diplomatic representative who presented their credential letters at the Vatican Apostolic Palace.
Speaking on various international initiatives meant to promote peace as well as humanitarian assistance in areas in need, the Pope spoke on the question of human trafficking as one of the most pressing issues in today’s society.
Human trafficking, he said, “affects the most vulnerable people in society: women, children, the disabled, the poorest and those who come from situations of family or social disintegration.”
The Holy Father told the ambassadors that victims, both Christian and non-Christian, must be freed from “this horrible trade.” Millions who are forced into labor, manpower or sexual exploitation constitutes a violation of their rights.
“This cannot continue,” he stressed. “It constitutes a grave violation of the human rights of the victims and an offense to their dignity, as well as a defeat for the global community.”
“All persons of good will, whether they profess a religion or not, cannot allow these women, these men and these children to be treated as objects, deceived, violated, often repeatedly sold, for various purposes, and at the end either killed or ruined physically and mentally, to end up discarded and abandoned. It is shameful.”
Calling it a crime against humanity, the Pope went on to stress the common responsibility shared by the international community to show “decisive political will” to end human trafficking. The 76 year old Pontiff called for legislative action in the countries where many are taken from to regulate migration.
While acknowledging that governments have taken some action, the Pope said that much more needs to be done, including an examination of conscience. “Whoever uses and exploits human beings, even indirectly, becomes complicit in their oppression,” said.
Concluding his address, Pope Francis called on the international community to adopt a “more unanimous and effective strategy” to fight against human trafficking. (J.A.E.)