By Carol Glatz
Maman Dedeou, in his hometown of Timbuktu in Mali June, 2013. His right hand was amputated by militants in 2012. (CNS/Paul Jeffrey)
VATICAN CITY — “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Pope Francis often holds up Cain’s cynical words and attitude of indifference as a rallying cry against the apathy and outright complicity shown in today’s world to the crime and horror of human trafficking.
At least 21 million people have been forced into modern-day slavery and many of those were caught in the snares of traffickers. Some experts believe human trafficking will soon overtake drug and arms trafficking as the most lucrative criminal activity in the world.
A young woman rests at the entrance of her house in Iquitos, Peru, 2006. (CNS/Walter Hupiu)
The U.S. bishops and Catholics in some parts of the world dedicate a day of prayer and fasting for victims and survivors of trafficking on Feb. 8 — the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped as a child, sold into slavery and dedicated her life to comforting others after she was freed.
A child receives help in Iquitos, Peru, at a center in that supports children, especially those who have been sexually exploited. (CNS/Walter Hupiu)
Pope Francis has repeatedly called human trafficking “a crime against humanity” and condemned the lack of outrage and action to stop this affront to human dignity:
We must unite our efforts to free the victims and stop this increasingly aggressive crime which threatens not only individuals but the basic values of society and of international security and justice, to say nothing of the economy, and the fabric of the family and our coexistence.
– Speech to new ambassadors to the Vatican Dec. 12, 2013
It is horrifying just to think that there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day; children being used as soldiers, abused and killed in armed conflicts; children turned into merchandise in that terrible form of modern slavery called human trafficking, which is a crime against humanity.
– Speech to Vatican diplomatic corps Jan. 13, 2014
A Congolese family, displaced by fighting in the Congo, rests at transit camp in Bundibugyo, (Read More)