Canadian bishops warn against human trafficking at Winter Olympics

|PIC1|Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops in Vancouver have expressed concerns that human trafficking may cast a shadow over the winter Olympics taking place in the city and Canadian ski resort Whistler next year.

At a recent dialogue held in Vancouver, the bishops described the February 2010 Games as a “celebration of human development through sport” but also expressed their intention to stand together in opposing the “social ill of human trafficking”.

They said in a joint statement: “Our churches rejoice in the unity and respect that the Olympics signifies to the world.

“We, the bishops of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Bishops’ Dialogue, stand together to call attention to the profound social ill of human trafficking.

“The buying and selling of human beings subverts the very essence of the Olympic spirit.”

The bishops quoted a report from the US State Department, estimating the number of people trafficked across national borders each year to stand at 800,000.

“We call upon the faithful of our churches and all people of good will to uphold and defend the dignity of every human person,” they said. “We pray that the solidarity and success of the Olympic Games will give a new respect for human life around the world.”

The Olympic Torch Relay is still on its 106-day journey around Canada, after kicking off in Victoria, British Columbia, on October 30. As it makes its way towards Vancouver for the start of the Games on February 12, The Salvation Army Canada said the torch relay was an incredible opportunity to connect with and serve communities.

“We want to be at the heart of the celebration,” said Sharon Tidd, The Salvation Army’s Vancouver/Whistler 2010 Olympic Outreach Coordinator.

The Salvation Army is supporting community celebrations along the torch relay route with its mobile canteens and brass bands. In some places, it is transporting people from neighbouring towns and villages to see the torch and helping with clean-up after the celebrations, while other branches are helping to organise community hockey tournaments to coincide with the torch’s visit.

Tidd said it was important for Canadian Salvationists to think about what God was asking them to do and what blessings they could bring to their community in His Name during the torch relay.

“Let’s show our nation that the Church is relevant and that it cares about the things that matter to Canadians,” she said.

Canadians have got behind the Olympics in a big way, with a new poll out on Tuesday finding that nearly three-quarters of Canadians plan to watch the Olympics on TV.