Vatican Continues to Tackle Human Trafficking

President of Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences Says It’s Outrageous EU Is Leaving Migrant Problem to Italy

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In line with Pope Francis’ continued attention to combat human trafficking, the latest Vatican conference on the terror that enslaves millions around the world, has been devoted to tackling the problem.

Along with director of the Vatican Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, those speaking at this morning’s briefing at the Holy See Press Office included Professor Margaret Archer, president of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences and Professor Stefano Zamagni, academy member.

The conference entitled, ‘Human Trafficking: Issues beyond criminalization,” which began Thursday and ends today in the Vatican’s Casina Pio VI, was the focus of the briefing.

In her remarks, Archer explained how the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences (PASS) came to be 20 years ago and where they wish to go.

When there was a new Pope, ‘a new model of action,’ she said, PASS’s hope to be ‘useful,’ not just academic, came to fruition, especially when the Holy Father responded to their question about how they can serve the Church.

The academy president went on to say how the Pontiff called on them to examine human trafficking and these forms of modern slavery, and how, by this time, they have brought together world faith leaders in the past, and will do so again on April 28th, with the aim of fining ways to make human trafficking “a moral and criminal offense throughout the world.”

Looking ahead, Dr. Archer noted that in New York this September, there will be a presentation of development goals for the next 15 years. Their hope, she said, “is to insert ‘the elimination of human trafficking’ into these goals.”

“Of course, we won’t be able to completely eliminate it,” she acknowledged, “but at least we can substantially reduce it,” she said.

She pointed out that also on April 28th, the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will meet with the Holy Father, where they will discuss the PASS April conference’s finalized recommendations for how to reduce trafficking.

Fr. Lombardi told the press that the recommendations will be finalized tonight, and that in the coming days, they will be made available to the public.

Pope Francis, addressing the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences Saturday, said, “Many many times these new forms of slavery,” which he noted include human trafficking, forced labor, prostitution, organ trafficking, “are protected by the very institutions who should defend the population from these crimes.”

When ZENIT asked if she could expand on this, Archer responded, “I can imagine what he had in mind,” and noted how various institutions are turning away from this reality.

For instance, she echoed Professor Zamagni’s having pointed out that multinational corporations do not confront trafficking because the profits the act creates. 

Yet, she pointed out that businesses are certainly not the only institutions which turn a blind eye or somewhat ignore it. Political parties won’t sacrifice their own popularity to promote anti-trafficking laws, she said, adding that even churches of all denominations often remain silent in the face of such matters.

The speakers also pointed out how commonly terms relating those living through these modern forms of slavery are used interchangeably with those related to immigration, and warned against making this mistake.

Responding to other journalists about the EU’s response to migration of North Africa into Italy, Archer said, “It is outrageous that there’s been no shared EU responsibility,” and that although, “Italy’s forces are doing as well as they could be,” they cannot be left with this burden because other nation’s are self-interested and looking the other way.

According to the World Freedom Network, there are an estimated 35.8 million people around the world that are forced to live in slavery.


On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Translation of Pope’s Address to Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences Saturday:

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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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