Cardinal Vincent Nichols has said that he 'will not be deflected' from his commitment to combat human trafficking, and that he is 'hopeful', speaking at the Vatican over the weekend.
'We are doing this for the sake of victims and survivors and we will not be deflected,' the Cardinal, who is president of the Santa Marta Group aimed at tackling modern slavery, told the website ZENIT in an interview.
Cardinal Nichols was speaking after a press conference held by the group, which was launched in 2014 by Pope Francis, alongside others including Cardinal Charles Bo, the Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar, and Cressida Dick, the commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police. The group had met with Pope Francis previously.
The Santa Marta Group is an alliance of international police chiefs and bishops from around the world working together with civil society in a process endorsed by Pope Francis, to eradicate human trafficking and modern day slavery. The Pope has described trafficking as 'an open wound on the body of contemporary society'.
The group was developed by the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales. In April 2014, it first met in Rome when police chiefs and Catholic bishops came together, in the presence of Pope Francis, whose home it is named after. It now has members in over 30 countries.
Cardinal Nichols said: 'I would like everybody to understand that human trafficking takes place in every country. There are 42 million people forced into modern slavery. Everyone must understand that there are probably people who are working as slaves in the vicinity of where they live. Every country is a place from which people are taken and to where people are taken. My first encounter was an English woman who had been trafficked for prostitution in Italy. And it was not how I envision human trafficking, but the reality.
He added: 'If I could convey to you some of the dedication and passionate commitment in the last couple of days in the Santa Marta Group, you would feel a bit hopeful.'