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Vatican and law enforcers unite to fight trafficking

Police chiefs from 20 nations attend Vatican meeting

<p>Pictcure: Catholic News Agency</p>

Pictcure: Catholic News Agency

  • Elise Harris for Catholic News Agency
  • Vatican City
  • April 11, 2014
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Gathered in Rome to discuss methods for the eradication of human slavery, both law enforcement and Vatican officials exchanged ideas on how to collaborate in combating the issue and caring for victims.

“Human trafficking is an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ. It is a crime against humanity,” Pope Francis exclaimed in his April 10 audience with the conference participants.

Drawing police chiefs from 20 different nations around the world, the April 9 – 10 conference was hosted by the Vatican’s Academy of Sciences, and was organized through the Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales.

This marks the second conference bringing individuals together in the Vatican to discuss the topic of human trafficking, the first being held in the fall of 2012. Following this week’s gathering, participants revealed that a third gathering will convene in London this coming November.

In his message the Pope extended his greetings to attendees, thanking them for their presence and encouraged them all to “combine our efforts” with the desire for “our strategies and areas of expertise to be accompanied and reinforced by the mercy of the Gospel” and “by closeness to the men and women who are victims of this crime.”

Referring to human trafficking as “an open wound on the body of contemporary society,” the pontiff gave special attention to the presence of law enforcement authorities, “who are primarily responsible for combating this tragic reality by a vigorous application of the law.”

“It also includes humanitarian and social workers, whose task it is to provide victims with welcome, human warmth and the possibility of building a new life” he continued, noting that although these are “two different approaches,” they “can and must go together.”

During an April 10 press conference following the conclusion of the meeting, representatives from Asia, Africa and Europe responded to journalist’s questions regarding the events and topics of discussion over the last two days.

Speaking in reference to the importance of the strong backing the Holy See gives to civil authorities on the issue, London’s Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe expressed that this collaboration is crucial.

The fact that Pope Francis, who met with the four survivors of trafficking who gave their testimony during the conference, is giving the topic such dedicated attention is extremely helpful, Howe noted, especially since most of the trafficking is of a sexual nature, because the Pope approaches victims with a particular tenderness.

Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop of the Abuja province in Nigeria, affirmed the importance of the Pope’s interest in the issue, stating that the fact that he drove down to meet the conference participants rather than having them come to him and wait demonstrates that “He's present, he's part of this group.”

Full Story: Vatican, civil authorities join forces against human trafficking 

Source: Catholic News Agency

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