The response of the Church to Human Trafficking
Pope Francis has made the fight against human trafficking a priority in his papacy and recently attended a conference in Rome, co-ordinated by the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales. He has met with victims and described trafficking as “an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ. It is a crime against humanity.”
The UK is prime destination country for trafficking. Some people are brought directly to the UK for sexual exploitation or slave labour, while others are exploited in transit countries before ultimately arriving in the UK. The majority of trafficked victims in the UK are from Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. The Home Office estimates that between 4,000 and 10,000 women have been trafficked into the UK. You may think that human trafficking is confined to the major cities but it is on our doorstep. In recent years there have been instances of trafficking in Preston, Burnley and Rochdale and it is beyond doubt that the majority of trafficking crimes go undetected.
The Catholic Church in England and Wales is now developing a national response to the destructive practice of human trafficking and is increasingly playing an important role in raising awareness of the scale of human trafficking and developing ways to counter this crime. This is not only a job for the experts and we can all play a part through raising awareness and praying for an end to this most destructive of crimes against vulnerable people.
What we can do within parishes? Pray; raise awareness; volunteer; contact your MP; campaign for slave free labour; donate. For my own part, I aim to start a Parish Anti- Trafficking Group with a webpage on the Parish website. I am also working closely with the Medaille Trust, a charity working in Salford Diocese that provides safe houses for trafficked victims and with Mark Wiggin of Caritas Salford in developing ideas for awareness raising especially with young people.
There will a be a concert at St Michaels and St John’s Parish Centre on Friday 31 October, 7pm. Besides an entertaining evening, the concert is a fundraiser so please spread the word. For more information contact me on 01200 422811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Diocesan Representative (Salford) for the Medaille Trust