Today, Pope Francis met with Orthodox, Anglican, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu representatives to sign a Declaration of Religious Leaders against Slavery. Pope Francis thanked those in attendance for making the public commitment to end modern slavery in all its forms. He spoke of the spirit of fraternity among believers, along with the knowledge that humans, created in God’s image and likeness, deserve dignity, regardless of their circumstances.
Therefore, we declare on each and every one of our creeds that modern slavery, in terms of human trafficking, forced labour and prostitution, and organ trafficking, is a crime against humanity. Its victims are from all walks of life, but are most frequently among the poorest and most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters. On behalf of all of them, our communities of faith are called to reject, without exception, any systematic deprivation of individual freedom for the purposes of personal or commercial exploitation; in their name, we make this declaration.
Let us call to action all persons of faith and their leaders, Governments, businesses, all men and women of good will, to lend their unwavering support and to join the movement against modern slavery, in all its forms.
The pope also called attention to the various forms of trafficking by referring to “an unjustly enslaved and mistreated worker; a refugee caught in the snares of crime; a young person walking the streets of the world, a victim of the sex trade; a man or a woman tricked into prostitution by people with no fear of God; a child mutilated for his or her organs …”
… Sister Chan Khong, the first ordained monastic disciple of Zen Master Thich Hnat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist[,] the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, head of the 77 million-strong Anglican Communion, and Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi al-Modarresi of Iran. Also present was a representative of Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb, grand imam of Al-Azhar University, one of the oldest and most revered centers of religious learning for Sunni Muslims.