Here is a translation of a message that Pope Francis sent to the participants in a Conference on human trafficking, promoted and organized by “Saint Martha’s Group,” (Madrid, October 30-31).
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Ladies and Gentlemen
It gives me great joy and pastoral satisfaction that the Saint Martha’s Group is meeting again in the symbolic Saint Lawrence Monastery of The Escorial in Spain. In the short time of its existence, this worthy group has been able to do much, and it is called to a decisive task for the eradication of the new slaveries. In the course of the present year some significant institutional novelties have arisen, which undoubtedly can support your activity and collaborate with the beneficent action of Saint Martha’s Group. I am referring, on one hand, to the meeting of Mayors in Vatican City on July 21, which I addressed. At that meeting these important personalities signed a Declaration committing themselves to eradicate the new slaveries, which they condemn as a crime against humanity. On the other, I also want to mention the recent approval of the 2030 Agenda, with the United Nations Organization’s new objectives of sustainable development, whose objective stated in 8.7 is: “Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.”
As I had the opportunity to affirm, just before the unanimous approval of the said Agenda, in my address to the United Nations Organization in New York on September 25 of this year: “Our world demands of all government leaders a will which is effective, practical and constant, concrete steps and immediate measures for preserving and improving the natural environment and thus putting an end as quickly as possible to the phenomenon of social and economic exclusion, with its baneful consequences: human trafficking, the marketing of human organs and tissues, the sexual exploitation of boys and girls, slave labour, including prostitution, the drug and weapons trade, terrorism and international organized crime. Such is the magnitude of these situations and their toll in innocent lives, that we must avoid every temptation to fall into a declarationist nominalism which would assuage our consciences. We need to ensure that our institutions are truly effective in the struggle against all these scourges.”
Today the 193 States that adhere to the UN have a new moral imperative to combat the trade of persons, a true crime against humanity. The collaboration between Bishops and civil Authorities, each one according to his mission and nature, for the purpose of discovering the best practices for the accomplishment of this delicate task, is a decisive step to ensure that the will of governments reaches the victims in a direct and immediate, constant, effective and concrete way. You, ecclesiastical and civil Authorities, are called to be close to the victims and to support them in their search for dignity and freedom. So should the many brothers and sisters feel who suffer human trade. Today, dear members of Saint Martha’s Group, you are not alone in this delicate enterprise. You can count on the support of the most enlightened Mayors and of the whole of the International Community, given the respective commitment that they have made and signed. Let us thank God.
For my part, I pray to Almighty God to give you the grace to take this mission forward, which is so delicate, so humanitarian and so Christian, of curing the open and painful wounds of humanity, which are also Christ’s wounds. I assure you of all my support and prayer, and of the support and prayer of the faithful of the Catholic Church. With the help of God and your collaboration, this indispensable service of Saint Martha’s Group will be able to free the victims of the new slaveries, rehabilitate them and the captives and excluded, unmask the traffickers and the market creators, and give effective assistance to cities and nations; a service for the common good and the promotion of human dignity, that will be able to do the best for every person and every citizen. May God bless you all.
Vatican, October 28, 2015
[Original text: Spanish] [Translation by ZENIT]