Vatican City, Nov 7, 2016 / 03:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis met in Rome with a unique group involved in the fight against human trafficking, where he noted the particular contributions of women religious, which often go unnoticed.
“Your activity in this area reminds us,” the Pope said Nov. 7, of ‘the enormous and often silent efforts which have been made for many years by religious congregations, especially women’s congregations, to care for those wounded in their dignity and scarred by their experiences.”
“I think especially of the distinctive contribution made by women in accompanying other women and children on a deeply personal journey of healing and reintegration,” he said.
The Pope met with RENATE, a European network of religious who are committed to work together in the fight against human trafficking and exploitation. Members consist of women religious, priests and laypersons who all have professional training in fields such as psychology, counseling, law and law enforcement.
During his audience with the group, Pope Francis acknowledged both what has been accomplished and what still needs to be done in combating the problem.
“Much more needs to be done on the level of raising public consciousness and effecting a better coordination of efforts by governments, the judiciary, law enforcement officials and social workers,” he said.
The group’s second assembly, titled “The End of Trafficking Begins with Us,” takes place in Rome Nov. 6-12. Taking place at the Roman hotel Tra Noi, the conference focuses on the mission that they are “Called to give voice to the voiceless.” In addition to the audience with Pope Francis, participants will also hear several talks and visit shelters.
Noting how it was fitting for the conference to take place during the Jubilee of Mercy, the Pope said how “in this season of grace, all of us are invited to enter more deeply into the mystery of God’s mercy.”
And like the Good Samaritan, we are all called to bring “the balm of that mercy” to the many “open wounds” in our society.
“One of the most troubling of those open wounds,” he stated, “is the trade in human beings, a modern form of slavery, which violates the God-given dignity of so many of our brothers and sisters and constitutes a true crime against humanity.”
Stressing how women and children are usually the most affected by the “scourge” of human trafficking, Francis expressed his appreciation for the efforts of those present to raise public awareness.
The Pope thanked them for their “faithful witness to the Gospel of mercy, as demonstrated in your commitment to the recovery and rehabilitation of victims.”
“As you well know, one of the challenges to this work of advocacy, education and coordination is a certain indifference and even complicity, a tendency on the part of many to look the other way where powerful economic interests and networks of crime are at play,” he said.
“I trust that your sharing of experiences, knowledge and expertise in these days will contribute to a more effective witness to the Gospel in one of the great peripheries of contemporary society.”