Vatican releases resources to combat $150 billion human trafficking industry

The Vatican is helping in the long struggle against human trafficking

The Vatican has issued a new document regarding “Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking”, with the aim of “understanding, recognizing, preventing, and eradicating the plague of the trafficking of persons, – which is estimated to generate $150 billion a year – protecting the victims, and promoting the recovery of survivors.”

The 36-page document, which was presented at a conference by the Vatican’s Press Office, is an expression of the “enormous importance” Pope Francis attaches to the “plight of the millions of men, women, and children who are trafficked and enslaved.”

Along with the guidebook, a compilation of all of Pope Francis’ teachings on migrants, refugees, and human trafficking entitled “Lights on the Ways of Hope” was also released in hardcover and online in English and other languages. The searchable digital version will continue to be updated as the pope comments on human trafficking in the future.

According to the preface of the Pastoral Orientations, the purpose of the document is “to provide a reading of Human Trafficking and an understanding that motivate and sustain the much-needed long-term struggle.”

It is the result of extensive consultations with “Church leaders, scholars, and experienced practitioners and partner organizations working in the field.”

After discussing the proper definition of human trafficking, Pastoral Orientations goes on to investigate the underlying causes of the phenomenon.

It emphasises the importance of acknowledging the reality of human trafficking, and seeks to describe the dynamics of this “ugly, evil business.”

Finally, the document examines responses to human trafficking, including increasing cooperation among those fighting this crime; providing support to victims of human trafficking, and promoting the recovery of survivors.

The Vatican is calling for an ethical assessment of both business models and consumption, particularly in the industries such as agriculture, fishing, construction and mining where human trafficking is deeply embedded.

“The Church encourages both sides of the commercial relationship – entrepreneurs who provide and end-users who consume – to engage in this ethical reflection and then to make the changes that are called for,” the guide states.

“I hope that this collection of teachings may indeed illuminate our steps on the pathways of hope, providing food for inspiration and prayer, preaching and pastoral action,” Pope Francis wrote in the introduction to the book.

Since its foundation by Pope Francis, the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development has acted under the direct guidance of the Holy Father.