Pope Francis Appeals for Global Cooperation Versus Modern Slaveries

In his World Day of Peace 2015 message, Pope Francis bewailed the socio-economic and moral enslavement of millions of people in the world today perpetrated through corruption, violent suppression, illegal economic activities, child labor and labor exploitation, prostitution and human trafficking. These are committed by people who have lost their sense of fraternity and solidarity with their fellow humans. This loss of fraternity or the indifference towards modern forms of enslavement, he says, arises when “the sin of estrangement from God, from the father figure and from the brother, becomes an expression of the refusal of communion. It gives rise to a culture of enslavement (cf.Gen9:25-27), with all its consequences extending from generation to generation: rejection of others, their mistreatment, violations of their dignity and fundamental rights, and institutionalized inequality.”

In Zamboanga City and the nation, these forms of enslavement victimize countless peoples and result in the loss of their freedom, poverty, insecurity, hunger and brutalization. Existing under the lengthening noses of local leaders and common citizens are homeless kids some of whom are forced into criminalities, prostitution or mendicancy; IDPs of last year’s war who are prevented to return to their original communities and therefore could more speedily and effectively recover their former socio-economic well-being; dispossessed emigrants from surrounding provinces forced to flee from terrorism and conflicts; thousands of perennially poor, illiterate or malnourished people; and trafficked young women.

In the face of these sufferings, Pope Frances urged that “Statesmust ensure that their own legislation truly respects the dignity of the human person. . .for just laws which are centred on the human person, uphold fundamental rights and restore those rights when they have been violated (that) should also provide for the rehabilitation of victims, ensure their personal safety, and include effective means of enforcement which leave no room for corruption or impunity. The role of women in society must also be recognized, not least through initiatives in the sectors of culture and social communications.”

He further said “Intergovernmental organizations, in keeping with the principle of subsidiarity, are called to coordinate initiatives for combating the transnational networks of organized crime which oversee the trafficking of persons and the illegal trafficking of migrants.” While, “Organizations in civil society, for their part, have the task of awakening consciences and promoting whatever steps are necessary for combating and uprooting the culture of enslavement.” Some civil society groups, like the Buhay Tanglaw of Katilingaban para sa Kalambuan, are in the forefront of such local initiatives.

“The globalization of indifference, which today burdens the lives of so many of our brothers and sisters, requires all of us to forge a new worldwide solidarity and fraternity”, the Pope exhorted. This solidarity is “capable of giving them new hope and helping them to advance with courage amid the problems of our time and the new horizons which they disclose and which God places in our hands.”

The World Day of Peace is observed by the Vatican every January 1.

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