Pope Francis on human trafficking: Church must fight 'the new slave hunters'

It is the Church's business to get involved in politics when it comes to human trafficking, according to Pope Francis.


The Pope addressed more than 100 officials and legal experts at a summit on human trafficking on June 3-4, sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

The Church must "stick its nose into politics" in order to help serve survivors of human trafficking, he said. "Politics is one of the highest forms of love and charity," he added, quoting Pope Paul VI.

The conference attracted judges and prosecutors from around the globe, who discussed their experiences of tackling human trafficking and making proposals for better national and transnational action to combat the growing issue.

Francis urged judges to lead in the fight against human trafficking and keep vigilant against injustice.

"I know, too, that to be a judge today, to be a public prosecutor and state attorney means risking your life," he said.

The judicial authorities are crucial in the defence of "the dignity and freedom of men and women today," he said. In particular, "to eradicate human trafficking and smuggling and the new forms of slavery such as forced labour, prostitution, organ trafficking, the drug trade and organised crime."

He suggested that judges work together, creating a network to collaboratively fight "the new slave hunters".

He celebrated judges who managed to remain impartial, free from external pressures of government, private institutions and criminal organisations.

He said it was essential that judges remain free from these pressures as without impartial judicial authorities, judicial power is at risk of corruption.

He insisted that punishment of perpetrators "must not be an end in itself", but rather justice must offer a means of rehabilitation beause "there is no valid punishment without [offering] hope".

Pope Francis reiterated his call for the abolition of the death penalty, where "the only hope is left to go to the next world."

Judges should focus "on the needs of the victims", he said, as "the victims are the first who need to be rehabilitated and reintergrated into society".

It is "the greatest good we can do for them, for community and for social peace".