The “Migrants and Refugees” Section of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development published two documents on migrants, refugees, and human trafficking, presented in the Vatican today, January 17.
Paolo Ruffini, Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, and the two Under-Secretaries of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, Father Michael Czerny and Father Fabio Baggio presented the two documents.
The first document is entitled “Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking.” It’s the fruit “of a process of consultation of Episcopal Conferences, Catholic organizations and Religious Congregations.” It includes “a series of pastoral orientations to understand, recognize, prevent and overcome the flow of the human trafficking, to protect the victims and to promote the rehabilitation of survivors.”
The second document is entitled “Lights on the Ways of Hope — Pope Francis’ Teachings on Migrants, Refugees and Trafficking.” This volume brings together the Pope’s teachings from the beginning of his pontificate to the end of 2017. A digital version is associated to it, with a research program that enables the regular updating of the site on the Pope’s teachings.
Zenit spoke to Fr. Czerny and Fr. Biaggio who noted there will be an important conference in April to deepen these themes.
Fr. Czerny also commented on how in North America, there are devastating realities of human trafficking that most people would be unaware of.
“Think of a young girl. One night she gets in a big fight with her parents. She leaves home, goes to take a bus to a major city. There is someone at the bus port, nice to her,” he said, as an example of how this happens to so many. After that, he noted, they are often on the street and after these experiences, never go back home and return to their lives before.
Fr. Biaggio, expressed that the problem also exists because there is demand. He noted that there would not be these perpetrators so intent on their illicit actions, if there were no ‘consumers,’ for what they were doing or offering.
“Sometimes we buy things, we buy them at a very low price, but we do not know what kind of work is behind these things,” he pointed out, yet, he continued, we do not ask if the supply chain has used forced labor or not, which unfortunately is one of the phenomena in the world today, in several countries.”
Here is the Vatican-provided text of Father Michael Czerny’s introduction at today’s meeting point in the Holy See Press Office:
Human trafficking, says Pope Francis, is an “atrocious scourge,” an “aberrant
plague,” an “open wound on the body of contemporary society.” This “global
phenomenon … exceeds the competence of any one community or country … We need a mobilization comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself.”1 Pope Francis’s harsh condemnations and ardent compassion fuel the Pastoral
Orientations on Human Trafficking.
Human trafficking is a very complex problem. Its forms are varied and changing, its victims very heterogeneous and so too the perpetrators. Such complexity requires multidisciplinary approaches to understand the phenomenon and its causes, and to identify the processes and persons involved in it – not only victims and perpetrators but also consumers, whether knowing or unwitting. Only then can appropriate responses be shaped.
To address trafficking and enslavement, during 2018 the Migrants & Refugees Section consulted partner organizations, researchers and practitioners working in the field. The Church’s full response was considered, in terms of strengths, weaknesses, pastoral action and policy options as well as enhanced coordination worldwide. The resulting draft was submitted to a second consultation with members of Bishops’ Conferences and other Church representatives. Approved by the Holy Father, this handbook reflects current Catholic thinking and courageous ministry. It will orient the work of the Migrants & Refugees Section and our partners.
After considering the legal definition of human trafficking that has been endorsed in international law, these Pastoral Orientations offer
● a reading: Why does the depravity of human trafficking persist in the 21st
century? How can it remain so hidden?
● an understanding: How does the ugly, evil business of human trafficking
● and action orientations for the much-needed long-term struggle: What can be done to alleviate and eliminate human trafficking? How can it be done better?
Each section of the Orientations – there are ten – analyzes the cruel facts and
challenges of one facet of the phenomenon. It then suggests a range of responses.
For “the Catholic Church intends to intervene in every phase of the trafficking of 1 Pope Francis, Greeting to the OSCE Conference, 3 April 2017; Angelus, 30 July 2017; Address to Participants in the International Conference on Combating Human Trafficking, 10 April 2014; Message for the World Day of
Peace, 1 January 2015 human beings” says Pope Francis; “she wants to protect them from deception and solicitation; she wants to find them and free them when they are transported and reduced to slavery; she wants to assist them once they are freed.”2
The Pastoral Orientations are offered to Catholic dioceses, parishes and religious congregations, schools and universities, Catholic and other organizations of civil society and any group willing to respond. They are for planning and evaluating practical pastoral engagement as well as advocacy and dialogue. Key points are also offered for homilies, education and media.
The Holy Father prays that “God may liberate all those who have been threatened, injured or mistreated by trade and trafficking in human beings, and may bring comfort to those who have survived such inhumanity.” He appeals to each and every one “to open our eyes, to see the misery of those who are completely deprived of their dignity and their freedom, and to hear their cry for help.”3
The long-term goal is to prevent and ultimately dismantle this most evil and sinful enterprise of deception, entrapment, domination and exploitation. “This immense task, which requires courage, patience and perseverance, demands a joint and global effort on the part of the different actors that make up society.”4
The document will help the Church play its important role in this struggle.
Michael Czerny S.J.
17 January 2019
The Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking can be found at https://migrants-refugees.va/trafficking-slavery/ in various languages and formats.
2 Address to Participants in the World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action against Human Trafficking, 12
3 Pope Francis, Message to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales for the Day of Life, 17 June
2018. Unofficial translation
4 Pope Francis, Video Message to the Participants in the International Forum on Modern Slavery, 7 May 2018.