Pope Francis Joins Other Faith Leaders to Demand an End to Human Trafficking

Pope Francis Joins Other Faith Leaders to Demand an End to Human Trafficking

Pope Francis and religious leaders from Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and other faiths came together at the Vatican on Tuesday (Dec. 2) to call for an end to slavery by 2020.

At a ceremony in which they signed a declaration to that effect, the pope joined the head of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and representatives of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and the grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar Mosque, Ahmed Muhammad Ahmed el-Tayeb.

The leaders said it was a “human and moral imperative” to wipe out human trafficking, forced labor, prostitution and organ trafficking. It also committed the signatories to do all they could to free the estimated 35 million people enslaved across the world.

“Modern slavery … fails to respect the fundamental conviction that all people are equal and have the same freedom and dignity,“ the joint statement said.

“We pledge ourselves here today to do all in our power, within our faith communities and beyond, to work together for the freedom of all those who are enslaved and trafficked so that their future may be restored.”

One of the Argentinian pontiff’s close friends from Buenos Aires, Rabbi Abraham Skorka, and Rabbi David Rosen, international director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, also endorsed the initiative to wipe out what the pope called a “terrible scourge.”

The pope has spoken out many times against slavery and human trafficking, and in his address Tuesday he stressed the right of every human being to freedom and dignity.

The joint declaration, which was organized by the multifaith Global Freedom Network, came two days after Francis concluded his visit to Turkey to promote peace in the Middle East and build better relations with Muslims and Orthodox Christians.

Australian businessman and philanthropist Andrew Forrest called for international organizations and business leaders to support religious leaders in the fight against modern slavery.

“Today’s declaration is unprecedented,” said Forrest, who is head of the Walk Free Foundation, a partner of the Global Freedom Network. “It is the first time in history that both Sunni and Shia have joined with the Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox as well as Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist faiths to publicly work together to eliminate slavery. … It is critical for faith leaders to lead society in demanding an end to modern slavery once and for all.”

Courtesy: Religion News Service

Publication date: December 3, 2014