Pope Francis received a group of non-resident Ambassadors to the Holy See on Thursday in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican.
The diplomats represent Algeria, Iceland, Denmark, Lesotho, Palestine,
Sierra Leone, Cape Verde, Burundi, Malta, Sweden, Pakistan, Zambia,
Norway, Kuwait, Burkina Faso, Uganda and Jordan.
The Holy Father focused
his remarks to his guests on the scourge of human trafficking,
denouncing the practice as a “real form of slavery” and calling for
renewed and concerted efforts to end the inhuman trade.
Francis said that the trafficking of persons is an evil that involves
every country – even the most developed – and harms the weakest and most
vulnerable members of society, especially women and girls, children,
the disabled, the poorest of the poor, and anyone affected by a
disintegration of family or social life.
“In these,” he said, “we
Christians see the face of Jesus Christ, who identified himself with the
least and the most needy.” Calling the persistence of the trade in
human persons, “shameful,” Pope Francis said, “Every person of goodwill,
whether he professes religion or not, cannot allow these women, these
men, these children to be treated as objects: cheated, raped, often sold
several times, for different purposes, and eventually killed, or at
least, ruined in body and mind, and finally discarded and abandoned.”
Pope went on to say, “Trafficking in human persons is a crime against
humanity.” He added, “We must join forces to free the victims and to
stop this ever more aggressive crime, which threatens not only
individual persons, but also the foundational values of society, as
well as international security and justice, along with the economy,
family structure and social life.”
The Holy Father called on the
international community to work in greater concert to develop more
effective strategies to combat human trafficking, so that in no part of
the world might men and women be used as a means, but always be
respected in their inviolable dignity.