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Vatican cardinal likens human trafficking to slavery

Catholic World News - May 08, 2012

The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace hosted a conference on May 8 devoted to human trafficking. The conference, organized by Bishop Patrick Lynch of Southwark, focused on prevention, the pastoral care of victims, and their reintegration into society.

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said that many people “live every day in conditions approximately slavery” because of human trafficking. That ugly business, he said, is run “by unscrupulous criminals who fill their pockets by this trafficking and exploitation.”

Cardinal Turkson said that although national laws are needed to combat human trafficking, a comprehensive solution requires “the conversion of hearts, above all else.” He also argued that efforts to ease poverty are part of the overall solution, since that societies living in extreme need “provide opportunities for traffickers to find their victims.”

Bishop Lynch said that women religious have “have led the way throughout the world” in combating this scourge.

“We are, first of all, very grateful to Cardinal [Peter] Turkson for hosting this conference which will bring together people representing the Church, law enforcement agencies, NGOs, religious orders and a variety of embassies from a number of different countries throughout the world,” Bishop Lynch added. “My hope is that it will create within the Church a greater awareness of the extent and tragedy of human trafficking, but also that it will strengthen the resolve of Church groups, governments and civic groups to work together to prevent trafficking and support those people and projects who do heroic work in helping the victims of trafficking.”

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