An unrelenting, coordinated commitment is needed to prevent people from falling prey to traffickers and to help victims caught in their snares, Pope Francis told representatives of law enforcement agencies and Church leaders.
The growing number of people being trafficked and exploited are “the most vulnerable” people in society; they are stripped of their dignity, physical and mental integrity and sometimes even their life, the pope said during an audience with the Santa Marta Group on 27th October.
Thanking and encouraging the group members for their fight against this “social evil,” Pope Francis reiterated that “what is needed is a coordinated, effective and constant commitment, both to eliminate the causes of this complex phenomenon and to reach, assist and accompany the people who fall into the snares of trafficking.”
The Santa Marta Group is an international coalition of senior law enforcement chiefs and members of the Catholic Church – including bishops’ conferences and religious orders – working together to end human trafficking. The group was founded in 2014 as part of an initiative begun by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. The name ‘Santa Marta’ refers to the Vatican guest house, where Pope Francis lives, and where police chiefs and Catholic bishops held their first meeting.
The group, which now has members in more than 30 countries, met at the Vatican from 26th to 27th October to detail progress being made, share best practices and update the pope on their efforts. Nearly 21 million people, including minors, are believed to be victims of human trafficking, according to the International Labour Organisation.
Picture: Pope Francis meets Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Santa Marta Group, an international association founded by Pope Francis in 2014 aimed to fight and prevent human trafficking, at the Vatican on Thursday 27th October 2016. (L’Osservatore Romano/ANSA via AP).