Pope Insists Causes Of Traffic In Human Beings Be Addressed

Message to International Conference Held in Rome

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 15, 2002 (Zenit.org).-John Paul II insisted that if there is to be an end to the traffic of human beings, the causes must be addressed.



In a message, sent to the International Conference of ambassadors and representatives of the Catholic Church addressing the issue, the Pope said that attention "needs to be paid to the deeper causes of the increased ´demand´ that fuels the market for human slavery and tolerates the human cost that results."

Such an analysis, John Paul II added, "will lead to an examination of the lifestyles and models of behavior, particularly with regard to the image of women, which generates what has become a veritable industry of sexual exploitation in the developed countries."

"Similarly, in the less developed countries from which most of the victims come, there is a need to develop more effective mechanisms for the prevention of trafficking in persons and the reintegration of its victims," the Pope continued.

Archbishop Jean Louis Tauran, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, read the papal message on Wednesday, at the opening of the International Conference entitled "21st Century Slavery -- The Human Rights Dimension to Trafficking in Human Beings." The Conference, held at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, will end today.

The initiative was the idea of Jim Nicholson, Ambassador of the United States of America to the Holy See.

The Conference is promoted by Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See in conjunction with the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace and for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, and by the magazine "Inside the Vatican."

U.S. Congressional sources report that over 700,000 people are trafficked annually, and more than 50,000 women and girls are trafficked into the United States alone. This 21st century slavery afflicts every continent with very few countries free from its devastating effects.

It contributes to the development of organized crime, diseases, social breakdown, and the loss of freedom and dignity. Trafficking is a lucrative business. According to the International Organization on Migration, 5 to 7 billion dollars are made each year on the business of human flesh.

"The trade in human persons constitutes a shocking offense against human dignity and a grave violation of fundamental human rights," the Pope said.

Moreover, such "situations are an affront to fundamental values that are shared by all cultures and peoples, values rooted in the very nature of the human person," the Holy Father added.

The Holy Father relates that the "alarming increase in the trade of human beings is one of the pressing political, social, and economic problems associated with the process of globalization; it presents a serious threat to the security of individual nations and a question of international justice that cannot be deferred."

"In particular, the sexual exploitation of women and children is a particularly repugnant aspect of this trade, and must be recognized as an intrinsic violation of human dignity and rights. The disturbing tendency to treat prostitution as a business of industry not only contributes to the trade in human beings, but is itself evidence of a growing tendency to detach freedom from the moral law and to reduce the rich mystery of human sexuality to a mere commodity," the Pope said.

The Holy Father concluded, saying: "I am confident that the Conference, while treating the significant political and juridical issues involved in responding to this modern plague, will also explore the profound ethical questions raised by trafficking in human beings."

For additional information on the Conference see: (stoptrafficking.org).-.