By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis is urging the collaboration and commitment of other sectors of the Church in order to make the fight against the scourge of trafficking in persons more prompt, effective and widespread.
He made the call on Thursday while meeting in the Vatican some 120 participants in the first general assembly of Talitha Kum, an international network of consecrated men and women fighting human trafficking.
Talitha Kum is a project of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), that brings together the women’s religious congregations, in collaboration with the men’s Union of Superiors General (USG).
The Pope expressed admiration for the impressive achievement of the initiative that began in 2009 and today includes 52 networks of women’s congregations active in 92 countries of the world. It includes 2,000 volunteers who have helped more 15,000 victims and reached out to more than 200,000 people in prevention and awareness-raising activities.
“The numerous congregations that have worked and are working in the “forefront” of the Church's missionary action against the scourge of trafficking in persons,” the Pope said, “deserve gratitude.”
Problems and solutions
He pointed to two main issues that the general assembly is focussing on. Firstly, great differences, mainly due to socio-cultural factors, still mark the condition of women in the world. Secondly, the limits of the neo-liberal development model, with its individualistic vision, risks depriving the state of responsibility.
The assembly, he noted, is identifying proposals for solutions, and highlighting the resources needed to implement them. He appreciated their pastoral planning for a more qualified and fruitful assistance to the local Churches.
In this regard, he suggested that the "Pastoral Guidelines on Trafficking in Persons", by the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development will be useful.
Invitation to join in the fight
While encouraging the women’s congregations engaged in the fight against human trafficking and in assisting the victims, the Pope also appealed to other congregations, both male and female, to adhere to this missionary work, putting in their personal service and resources so that they can reach every place.
The Holy Father urged those congregations preoccupied with their internal problems, to join the fight against human trafficking saying their problems will be solved by going out to the streets and letting in fresh air.
“Considering the scale of challenges posed by human trafficking,” the Pope said, “it is necessary to promote a synergistic commitment on the part of the various ecclesial realities.” He wished the involvement of the local bishops in the planning and pastoral action of men’s and women’s congregations and Catholic organizations present in their territory so that the work of the Church is more timely and effective.
However, the Pope stressed that the path of consecrated life, both feminine and masculine, is the path of ecclesial insertion because outside the Church and in parallel to the local Church, things don’t work.