Faith Leaders, Pope Sign Declaration Against Slavery at Vatican

On International Day for Abolition of Slavery, Commitment Made to Eradicate Slavery, Human Trafficking by 2020

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Pope Francis and religious leaders are working to eradicate human trafficking and modern slavery by 2020.

To this end, this morning in the Casino Pio IV in the Vatican gardens, the Holy Father and global religious leaders signed “the Faith Leaders’ Universal Declaration Against Slavery.”

“We, the undersigned,” the English text of the declaration begins, “are gathered here today for a historic initiative to inspire spiritual and practical action by all global faiths and people of good will everywhere to eradicate modern slavery across the world by 2020 and for all time.”

“In the eyes of God,” it adds, “each human being is a free person, whether girl, boy, woman or man, and is destined to exist for the good of all in equality and fraternity.»

Modern slavery, in terms of “human trafficking, forced labor and prostitution, organ trafficking, and any relationship that fails to respect the fundamental conviction that all people are equal and have the same freedom and dignity,” the declaration decries, “is a crime against humanity.”

The text notes the pledge of all those gathered “to do all in our power, within our faith communities and beyond, to work together for the freedom of all those who are enslaved and trafficked so that their future may be restored.”  Today, it concludes, “we have the opportunity, awareness, wisdom, innovation and technology to achieve this human and moral imperative.”

This declaration follows the establishment of the Global Freedom Network (GFN) this March.

Pope Francis signed the declaration, along with other Vatican representatives, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Egypt, and Andrew Forrest on behalf of the Walk Free Foundation, which the GFN has a fouding partner.

More than this, this signing marks a historical first. Never before have Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, and Hindu faith leaders come together in an effort to tackle slavery, in such a way.

This gathering in Rome, which began yesterday and concludes today, falls on the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

Today, there are an estimated 35.8 million people around the world forced to live in slavery.

“Slaves no more. We are all brothers and sisters. #EndSlavery,” was Pope Francis’ tweet this morning.


On ZENIT’s website:

For the text of the Declaration, go to:

On the NET:

Global Freedom Network:

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': or

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