In the Pope’s Video for February, Pope Francis urges the faithful to come together and stand up against human trafficking. He joins in prayer with other organisations including the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) and invites people to respond generously to the victims.
While the video features footage of children doing manual labour and a boat packed with people in the ocean, the Pope says: “Although we try to ignore it, slavery is not something from other times. Faced with this tragic reality, no one can wash their hands of it without being, in some way, an accomplice to this crime against humanity”.
The Vatican issued a press release on the video on 7 February, 2019. Referring to the victims, they reported: “We see them every day on the news and in the papers. We call them economic migrants, refugees, undocumented immigrants, illegal aliens, displaced people, unaccompanied minors, caravans, or many other things, often forgetting that they are human beings.
“There are millions of them, fleeing their homelands each day due to war, hunger, political persecution, religious persecution, or situations of extreme poverty, facing countless forms of abuse. What we don’t see are the many criminal organizations that profit from this phenomenon by enslaving men, women, and children for the purposes of manual labor, sex work, organ trafficking, or forced participation in begging or crime”.
The Pope addresses a startling reality when he asserts, “We cannot ignore the fact that there is as much slavery in the world today as there was before, or perhaps more”. And he finishes with a strong appeal for the Church’s intentions to unite with his: “Let us pray for a generous welcome of the victims of human trafficking, of enforced prostitution, and of violence”.
In collaboration with Talitha Kum, the worldwide network of institutes of consecrated life committed to fighting human trafficking, the “Migrants and Refugees” Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, the Jesuit Refugee Service, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Apostleship of the Sea, the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network is joining in the world day of prayer and reflection against human trafficking, with the hashtag #TogetherAgainstHumanTrafficking.