Vatican City (AsiaNews) - An end to modern day slavery by 2020, in short an end to the physical, economic, sexual and psychological exploitation of men, women and children, which manifests itself in human trafficking, forced labor, prostitution, trafficking of organs. A crime "against humanity" is how Pope Francis described it today at the signing ceremony (pictured) of the Declaration of Religious Leaders against Slavery, held in the Vatican to coincide with the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.
was signed by the Pope together with Orthodox, Anglican, Jewish, Muslims, Buddhist
and Hindu representatives.
"Inspired by our faiths - said Pope Francis before signing - today we have gathered for a historic initiative and a concrete action: to declare that we will work together to eradicate the terrible scourge of modern slavery in all its forms. The physical, economic, sexual and psychological exploitation of men, women and children currently holds millions of people in dehumanizing and humiliating chains. Every human being, man, woman, boy and girl is the image of God, God is love and freedom gifted in interpersonal relationships, therefore every human being is a free person destined to exist for the good of others in equality and fraternity. All people are equal and must be recognized the same freedom and the same dignity. Any relationship that discriminates by failing to respect the fundamental belief that the other person is like me constitutes a crime, an abhorrent crime ".
"For this reason - he added - we declare on behalf of each and every believer of our faiths that modern day slavery, in the form of trafficking in persons, forced labor, prostitution, organ trafficking is a crime against humanity. The victims are all from every condition of life, but most often are found among the poorest and most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters. On their behalf, we call our communities to action, that they reject without reservation the systematic deprivation of individual liberty that results in personal or commercial exploitation, on behalf of these people, we make this declaration".
"Despite the great efforts of many, modern day slavery continues to be an atrocious scourge, present on a large-scale, world over, even under the guise of tourism. This crime 'against humanity' masquerades behind apparently accepted habits, but in reality finds its victims in prostitution, trafficking in persons, forced labor, slave labor, mutilation, the sale of organs, drug use, child labour. It hides behind closed doors, in particular places, on the streets, in cars, in factories, in the countryside, on fishing vessels and in many other parts. It takes place in both cities and in the villages, in the reception centers of the richest and the poorest countries in the world. Moreover, this situation is unfortunately getting worse every day".
"We call to
action - he concluded - all people of faith, leaders, governments, businesses, all
men and women of good will to give their strong support and join the movement
against modern day slavery, in all its forms. "
The following signed with Pope Francis:
- Hindu: Her Holiness Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma)
- Buddhists: Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) (represented by Venerable Thich Nu Bhikkhuni Chan Khong)
- Buddhists: The Most Ven. Sri Datuk K Dhammaratana, Chief High Priest of Malaysia
- Jews: Rabbi Dr. Abraham Skorka
- Jews: Chief Rabbi David Rosen, KSG, CBE
- Orthodox Church: His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (represented by His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France)
- Muslims: Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar (represented by Dr. Abbas Abbas Abdalla Soliman, Undersecretary of State of Al Azhar Alsharif)
- Muslims: Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi al-Modarresi
- Muslims: Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Basheer Hussain al Najafi (represented by Sheikh Jaafar Naziyah Razzaq, Special advisor of Grand Ayatollah)
- Muslims: Sheikh Omar Abboud
- Anglicans: Most Revd and Right Hon. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.