After Vatican Trafficking Meeting, The Tough Work Starts

May 27, 2019

What an amazing experience it was to attend Releasing Those Unjustly Bound, an international conference on the trafficking of persons from April 8-11, 2019, in Rome. It was organized by the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development at the Vatican.

These were extremely challenging and emotionally exhausting days, as participants faced the grievous reality of human trafficking throughout our world. Nevertheless, most left energized and hopeful, knowing that our Pope is calling all Catholics to become involved in the elimination of this “open wound on the body of contemporary society, a profound scourge in the humanity of those who suffer it and of its perpetrators.”

Pope Francis said trafficking “profoundly disfigures the humanity of the victim, offending his or her freedom and dignity.”

The conference was held at the Fraterna Domus in Sacrofano, on the outskirts of Rome, which was a very quiet, rural picturesque setting, in contrast to the intensity of facing the global reality of trafficking. After hearing presentations on various dimensions of human trafficking such as labour and sex trafficking, organ trafficking, child labour, or forced marriage, we were challenged to discern practical ways in which the Church could address these issues.

Our prime goal was to name concrete strategies for the implementation of the Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking (POHT), which was approved by Pope Francis and published in January 2019. The sessions, highly interactive and participatory with simultaneous translation, resulted in a draft of 42 proposals for action throughout the various organizations and institutions of the Catholic Church.

As Pope Francis stated in his 2015 World Day of Peace address, “we are facing a global phenomenon that exceeds the competence of any one community or country,” and therefore, “we need a mobilization comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself.”

Among the 200 participants were representatives of Catholic organizations, experts on the various aspects of trafficking, men and women religious, priests and bishops, representing many different parts of the world. There were two representatives from Canada: Sister Pauline Gagne who represented PACT Ottawa, and I represented the Anti-Human Trafficking Committee of the Archdiocese of Vancouver. 

To read the full story by Sister Nancy Brown, SC, on The B.C. Catholic: Click Here

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