Pope Francis has strongly condemned human trafficking and the exploitation of others and spoken of the need to “profoundly examine our consciences”.
In a message to the faithful in Brazil on the occasion of their annual Lenten “Fraternity Campaign”, which this year takes on the theme of “Brotherhood and human trafficking”, the Pope said it is “not possible to remain indifferent before the knowledge that human beings are bought and sold like goods!”
He noted that during the next forty days, the faithful are to seek to be more aware of the infinite mercy of God, especially those most in need.
“I think of the adoption of children for the extraction of their organs, of women deceived and obliged to prostitute themselves, of workers exploited and denied rights or a voice, and so on,” he said. “And this is human trafficking. It is precisely on this level that we need to make a good examination of conscience: how many times have we permitted a human being to be seen as an object, to be put on show in order to sell a product or to satisfy an immoral desire?,” the Pope asked.
“The human person ought never to be sold or bought as if he or she were a commodity,” he said. “Whoever uses human persons in this way and exploits them, even if indirectly, becomes an accomplice to this injustice.”
Turning to the family, he recalled the abuse that happens “even there”, and cited parents who “enslave their children, children who enslave their parents; married couples who, forgetting their duty in receiving this gift, exploit one another as if they were products for consumption, disposable products; the elderly without a place in society and children and adolescents without a voice.
“How many attacks to the basic values of the fabric of family life and social coexistence,” the Pope said. “Yes, there is a need to profoundly examine our consciences. How can one proclaim the joy of Easter, without lending support to those who are denied their freedom on this earth?”
He added that offense to human dignity stems from divesting oneself of one’s own dignity. “And why have I done this?,” the Pope asked. “For power, fame, material goods … in exchange for my dignity as a son or daughter of God, whose salvation comes at the price of Christ’s blood on the Cross and is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit who calls inside us, ‘Abba, father!’”
Human dignity, the Pope said, is the same for all human beings. “If I trample that of another, I also trample my own. Christ freed us so that we might live free in freedom!”
He said he hoped Christians and persons of good faith may make efforts to ensure that men, women, young people or children may “never more be victims” of human trafficking.
Making such an effort, he concluded, is the “most effective foundation for re-establishing human dignity and proclaiming Christ’s Gospel in towns and country, because Jesus wishes to sow life in abundance everywhere.”