Pope Francis was given a “thunderous salute” at a Vatican conference this Monday for his efforts to combat modern slavery over the past five years. The Pope has made addressing human trafficking a key priority for the church.
John McCarthy, chair of the Sydney Archdiocesan Anti-Slavery Taskforce, said Pope Francis is “perhaps the greatest anti-slavery campaigner in our world today.”
The National Catholic Register reports:
The Holy Father, whose concerns are said to date from being deeply affected by meeting victims of sexual exploitation in Buenos Aires, made combatting it a commitment of his pontificate in the summer of 2013 when he wrote a short note on the back of an envelope to fellow Argentine Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
“It would be good to examine human trafficking and modern slavery,” the Pope wrote, adding that “organ trafficking could be examined in connection with human trafficking.”
Since then, a series of events have been held at the academy located in Casina Pio IV palazzo in the Vatican Gardens, but the Pope’s concern for the issue has led to a number of concrete initiatives. In 2014, 63 ecumenical and interreligious leaders signed a joint declaration at the Vatican committing themselves to ending the global crime.
The initiative came from the Global Freedom Network, an organization which also drew inspiration from the Pope’s commitment to the issue.
The Catholic Church in Australia is doing its own part to address modern slavery by examining the church’s supply chain. Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney committed his archdiocese to addressing slavery in the church’s procurement practices and developing an ethical purchasing guide for parishes.