By Devin Watkins
Pope Francis is calling on men and women around the world to join in the fight against human trafficking.
He told a delegation of philanthropists and fundraisers of the Galileo Foundation at the weekend that it is every Christian’s duty to raise awareness of the plague of modern slavery.
John McCaffrey, President of the Galileo Foundation, and Theresa Clark, a philanthropist Member, spoke to Vatican News’ Stefano Leszczynski about how the Foundation is responding to the Pope’s call.
“We were born out of work that really began in the Pontifical Academy of Sciences,” said Mr. McCaffrey.
Early on in his pontificate, Pope Francis asked the Academy’s Chancellor, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, to examine the questions of human trafficking, modern slavery, and the trafficking of organs, and to work to end these scourges. Mr. McCaffrey said the bishop then asked him to help raise funds for conferences and initiatives to raise awareness.
“It was a couple of years after that that we realized there was a real appetite in the world to support this work,” he said.
Mr. McCaffrey noted that there is some curiosity surrounding the choice of the Foundation’s name. “‘Wasn’t Galileo excommunicated?’, friends ask me. And I always say, ‘No, he died happily in his bed.’ Of course, if you really fell afoul of the Church in those days, you didn’t die happily in your bed.”
The real reason they chose Galileo, Mr. McCaffrey said, was that he was a founding member of the 16th century forerunner to the Academy of Sciences. “It seemed like the right name, and it has really found resonance with people around the world who want to support not only the Pope and his projects but also this important connection and nexus between faith and science and social science,” he said.
Strengthen institutional capacity
One of the Galileo Foundation’s goals, said Mr. McCaffrey, is to strengthen the institutional capacity at the heart of the Church, “so that it can carry out the mission of the Pope and mission of the Gospel.”
Pope Francis encouraged the Foundation’s work during their private audience on Friday, he said, and invited them to bring joy into their work.
Mr. McCaffrey said Catholic donors “love the Church and they want to help.”
Philanthropy at the Pope’s service
Theresa Clark is an American nurse and member of the Galileo Foundation. She said its mission to help the Pope with all his projects “is something near and dear to our hearts.”
As a registered nurse, Ms. Clark said her calling is to take care of people who lack their own voice. This personal mission, she said, is “very much in line with the mission of the Galileo Foundation.”