U.S. Ambassador: Pope puts trafficking in global spotlight

2014-07-02 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio)  The U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See says Pope Francis has helped bring greater world-wide attention to the scourge of human trafficking which entraps people in the sex trade and illicit labor market.  Pope Francis has condemned this modern day slavery as a “crime against humanity.”

Listen to Tracey McClure's extended interview with Ambassador Kenneth Hackett:

Ambassador Kenneth Hackett told Vatican Radio “I believe that the Catholic Church has a very prominent role,” in the fight against human trafficking.  “I’ve seen the nuns and priests in the very isolated areas in the cities in Asia going and rescuing people - in fact, being really courageous.  And some of their intrepid work - under very difficult circumstances - is heroic.” 

Catholic religious and lay people are working all over the world to combat the phenomenon through prevention and victim assistance programs and advocacy to ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted and penalized. The Vatican hosted two big international anti-trafficking conferences over the last year to coordinate efforts with religious, civic, business and security leaders to combat trafficking.

“What the Holy See has done, with Pope Francis’ specific and very direct attention, is highlight the issue.  And that highlights it for the Church worldwide.  And that’s so important, and it gives courage to those who have been trying to work (against trafficking) and it gives just an additional push to the effort to eliminate this scourge.”

Hackett spoke to Vatican Radio soon after the U.S. State Department issued its Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) which analyzes how effective the world’s countries are in the fight against human trafficking.  He says the report, which this year singled out Thailand, Malaysia, the Gambia and Venezuela as “third tier” nations with a poor track record against trafficking, has done much to raise global awareness about the problem.

“I can recall twenty years ago when this issue was just not on anybody’s plate and the State Department - and now the Holy Father – has brought the issue to the world’s attention..."

(From archive of Vatican Radio)