Eradicating slavery is a priority for Pope Francis, former Australian ambassador to the Holy See John McCarthy told Catholic Outlook.
An important moment for Australia and for the worldwide campaign against slavery and human trafficking came about in December 2014, when Pope Francis and global leaders of other major religions met in Rome and signed the historic Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery.
Those who joined the Pope and signed the declaration included other important leaders representing the Anglican and Orthodox communions, Shia and Sunni Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism.
Mr McCarthy assisted Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest, and his Walk Free Foundation, which has become a major anti-slavery organisation based in Australia and a principal partner with the Vatican in sponsoring the Rome meeting.
In 2016, then Ambassador McCarthy was centrally involved with submissions to the Holy See which led to the announcement by Cardinal Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, that the Holy See would slavery proof its supply lines.
“Other good news is that many of the world’s largest food providers have also committed to slavery proofing their supply chains,” Mr McCarthy said.
"Conferences and programs for the eradication of modern slavery and human trafficking were central parts of my work as Ambassador to the Holy See.
“The eradication of slavery has been a constant demand by Pope Francis since the start of his pontificate. He has made this a priority international objective.
“There is widespread recognition of the central role of Pope Francis in having this crucial objective embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015,” Mr McCarthy said.
Since his return to Australia, Mr McCarthy has continued working to eradicate slavery and human trafficking.