Primate’s message on the Week against Human Trafficking

Dear Brothers and sisters,

“No human body can in any circumstances be an object to be enslaved.”

Archbishop Justin Welby

On this week, we celebrate internationally the Campaign against Human Trafficking. This is a human tragedy that only in the last years has been noticed by governments and non-governmental organizations. In our country, human rights bodies have denounced several categories of human trafficking, such as slave labor, organ trafficking, sexual exploitation of boys and girls and illegal adoption of children. Human trafficking has no borders and exists both here in Brazil and abroad. According to statistics put together by several international bodies, Brazil occupies the 10th position in the world in terms of human trafficking reported cases, but we must keep in mind several cases go unreported.

Brazilian society must be more conscious about this silent and obscure problem, which amasses at least 30 billion dollars in the world, enriching national and international mafias. Children and adults are lured into a world of dreams that becomes a nightmare. Economic and social exploitation submits them to undignifying living conditions and, many times, to death.

The Church reaffirms its commitment to human dignity and places itself emphatically against such crimes. Every human being is created in the image and likeness of God and carries an ontological dignity which must not be violated. No person should be submitted to restrictions on his/her freedom, mobility and ability to choose work. Nobody should be traded as merchandise, regardless of age, social condition or gender.

This week, the United Nations promotes several activities around the world, under a campaign called Blue Heart, which proposes clarifications on this topic, thus informing people about these crimes. Several international bodies, churches and social organizations have joined this campaign. In Brazil, such events will happen in nearly all states.

The Anglican Communion, through the Archbishop of Canterbury, took part of a joint agreement, with other 12 world faith leaders, for the end of human trafficking last December. In several Anglican provinces, actions are being taken to raise awareness about this theme. Our Brazilian province should do the same in concrete ways.

I call upon our Province to engage with combatting and preventing human trafficking. May our dioceses and churches save some time to gather their members and discuss about it, offering prayers for victims and their families. These actions can be done in partnership with other churches and human rights organizations. If there’s no local network against human trafficking, why not organize parish-based groups?

May God inspire us to take into consideration this time as an opportunity so we learn about this topic and take action protecting victims, preventing these crimes, and proclaiming prophetic words wherever we are.

May God bless all of us.

++ Francisco, Primate