By Lydia O'Kane
An International Conference addressing the scourge of Human Trafficking is currently underway in Rome.
Promoted by the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, the meeting aims to promote a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of trafficking and to help coordinate actions aimed at eradicating it.
The gathering brings together 200 participants including bishops, priests, men and women religious, project coordinators and pastoral agents, representatives of Catholic organizations and foundations and trafficking experts from various parts of the world.
One of those taking part at the meeting is the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols.
He is participating at the conference as president of the Santa Marta Group, which has a specific contribution to help establish, and develop partnerships between the Catholic Church and the forces of law and order around the world.
Identification, prevention and prosecution of human trafficking was one of the issues tackled on Wednesday, with the Cardinal noting that “it was done with real interest because not only could we begin to identify some of the benefits, but also some of the difficulties in that partnership.”
Forms of Exploitation
Another theme discussed during the morning session on Wednesday was the issue of organ harvesting which, the Cardinal said, offered an opportunity to hear about “the exploitation of very vulnerable people”, as the demand for organs increases due to chronic illness and old age.
The possibilities of modern technology
A theme that stood out for the Archbishop of Westminster was the potential offered by modern technology in the fight against human trafficking and exploitation.
The Cardinal said that during their group session they looked at the possibility of creating apps for mobile phones that, “would help to strengthen; give muscle to the global network of the Catholic Church”.
He went on to say that, “I am sure there is much more we can do to alert people to where the phenomena of human trafficking is most likely to be found.” The Cardinal also pointed out that apps could be used to help people respond when they feel themselves at risk or in danger.
Cardinal Nichols emphasized that there was a growing awareness at the conference that “human trafficking in all its forms is part of a criminal global network and therefore, these issues are global issues and what we try to place against that is the global network of the Catholic Church which is a network for good .”
The conference concludes on April 11 with an audience with Pope Francis.