CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 14 September 2019

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People rely on modern slavery for cheap goods cardinal says

BUENOS AIRES (CNS): “We want cheaper goods, illegal or immoral pleasure, cheap services for our bodies or for our cars. We are part of the demand met by modern-day slaves, part of the processes by which this slavery is one of the most profitable criminal activities in the world,”
 
Vincent Nichols Cardinal of Westminster, said on February 8 as he sounded a warning of a return to slave-driven economies.
 
The cardinal, who is president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, was in Argentina as a member of a United Kingdom delegation attending a February 8 to 11 regional conference of the Santa Marta Group, a global alliance of Catholic bishops, senior law enforcement figures, religious communities and nongovernmental organisations working in partnership to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking, of which he is president.
 
In a homily at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Buenos Aires on the feast of St Josephine Bakhita, patron saint of the victims of human trafficking, Cardinal Nichols said that although it was an evil comparable in enormity to child abuse, ordinary people often failed to realise how they were sometimes “part of the chain of supply and demand” that has led to an estimated 40 million people—a third of whom are believed to be children—trapped in slavery around the world.
 
“Their fate is not distant from us,” the cardinal said.
 
“We have to recognise how we, too, are part of the dynamics of life which lead to their captivity,” he said.
 
“In one way or another, we are part of the chain of supply and demand that results in their enslavement,” the cardinal continued.
 
“We want cheaper goods, illegal or immoral pleasure, cheap services for our bodies or for our cars,” he said. “We are part of the demand met by modern-day slaves, part of the processes by which this slavery is one of the most profitable criminal activities in the world.”
 
Cardinal Nichols said in his homily that human trafficking was both “a disgrace to our humanity” and that “the voice of its victims, just like the victims of childhood abuse, is the voice of Jesus crying out to us.”
 
He said, “We have to learn, again and again, how to truly listen to that cry, how to let it enter our hearts,” adding that such a task was “not easy, because we are constantly protecting ourselves with excuses and competing demands.”
 
But he reminded his listeners that every victim of human trafficking was effectively a prisoner who has been stripped of autonomy and treated with cruelty by “those who think they own them.”
 
The conference was hosted by the Argentine Bishops’ Conference in conjunction with the Latin American Bishops’ Council and was attended by representatives of the Argentine federal police.

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