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Monday, April 20, 2015

To the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences: raise awareness of new forms of slavery

Vatican City, 18 April 2015 (VIS) – The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, chaired by Margaret Archer, dedicated its plenary session to human trafficking. This morning the Pope received in audience the members of this institution and thanked them for their work in deepening knowledge of new forms of slavery and in endeavouring to eradicate human trafficking, noting that this scourge afflicts those who suffer as a result of forced labour, prostitution, and trafficking in organs and drugs.

“St. Peter Claver, in an historical moment at which slavery was widespread and socially acceptable, unfortunately – and scandalously – also in the Christian world, as it was a large-scale business, felt himself to be called by the words of the Lord, and consecrated himself as 'a slave of slaves'. And many other saints, such as St. John of Matha, went on to fight slavery, following the mandate of Paul: slaves no more, but brothers and sisters in Christ”.

“We know that the historical abolition of slavery as a social structure is a direct consequence of the message of freedom brought to the world by Christ with its fullness of grace, truth and love, with His programme of the Beatitudes. The progressive awareness of this message throughout history is the work of the Spirit of Christ and of His gifts, in which there participate the saints and many men and women of good will, who do not identify with a religious faith but who are committed to improving the human condition”.

“Unfortunately, in a global economic system dominated by profit, new forms of slavery have developed, in a certain way worse and more inhuman than those of the past. Therefore, following the Lord's message of redemption, we are called upon even more today to denounce and combat them. Firstly, we must raise awareness of this new evil that, in the globalised world, seeks to conceal itself as it is scandalous and 'politically incorrect'. No-one likes to acknowledge that in their own city, region or nation, there are new forms of slavery, yet we know that this wound afflicts almost all countries. We must then denounce this terrible scourge in all its gravity. Pope Benedict XVI has already categorically denounced every violation of the principle of equal dignity among human beings. I too have declared several times that these new forms of slavery – human trafficking, forced labour, prostitution, the trade in organs – are serious crimes and 'an open wound on the body of contemporary society'”.

Francis launched a final appeal to all of society to become more aware, “especially with regard to national and international legislation, in order to be able to bring traffickers to justice and to redirect their unjust earnings for the rehabilitation of victims. The most suitable methods must be sought to penalise those who are complicit in this inhuman market. We are required to improve the methods of rescuing victims, and their social inclusion, also bringing up to date the legislation on the right of asylum. The civil authorities must be more cognizant of the seriousness of this tragedy, which constitutes a regression for humanity”.

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