By Lydia O’Kane
The issue of Human Trafficking was under the spotlight at a Vatican conference this week which brought together experts and interested parties from around the world. In his discourse to them, Pope Francis on Thursday condemned trafficking in human beings as one of the most dramatic manifestations of the “commercialization of the other”, a crime against humanity that disfigures both the victims as well as those who carry it out.
Listening to the Pope’s remarks was Monsignor Robert Vitillo, Secretary General of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC). Reflecting on Pope Francis’ words, he said, that the Pope links it “to the whole culture of waste where people think that they can use other people”.
The Church in dialogue
Another point the Pontiff focused on was the importance of networking with other agencies to tackle human trafficking. Mons. Vitillo said, that in addition to networking with others, “the Catholic Church has to dialogue with itself; we have many Catholic organizations engaged in this…Having some of the international organisations at the conference was very very helpful to get the kind of overall global view from them and also for them to hear what we are doing…”
“We at ICMC are very involved at the global level in advocacy, with UNHCR; with the International Organisation for Migration; with the International Labour Organisation and all of them have some interest and some involvement in these issues.” This input, he says, goes to shaping international policies that have been already prepared, but still need to be implemented better by governments, as well as, new policies that need to be developed.
One of the themes that struck a chord with the ICMC General Secretary was that of organ trafficking. In his work as Attaché for Health for the Permanent Mission of the Holy See in Geneva, Mons Vitillo has worked with the World Health Organisation and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on this issue. He notes that while some in the medical profession are trying to tackle this serious issue, others see it as just “supply and demand”. He adds that, there are protocols aimed at preventing this, such as, the Istanbul Protocol which has been recently renewed with a view to sanctioning hospitals and doctors to flout regulations.
As the Church heads into Holy Week, Mons. Vitillo says we have to “connect ourselves to our faith and know that Christ continues to suffer because of our sins and because of the evil in the world." Trafficking is going on in many forms all over, he points out. He also says, that the issue of trafficking needs to be talked about more, prayed about, and “then to find the way we can take action to stop it.”