Pope Francis emphasized the need for international cooperation by joining global religious leaders in pledging to collaborate to end this crime against humanity by 2020. (Image courtesy of winnond/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
The Vatican has called global Christians to make Feb. 8 an international day for prayer and reflection on human trafficking.
According to the Vatican press release, the first objective of the observance is "to create greater awareness on this phenomenon and to reflect on the overall situation of violence and injustice that affect so many people, who have no voice, do not count, and are no one: they are simply slaves."
The second object is "to attempt to provide solutions to counter this modern form of slavery by taking concrete actions."
The U.N. declared in 2013 that July 30 was "World Day Against Trafficking in Persons," but the Vatican's initiative represents the first call for global Christians to set aside a day to focus on ending human trafficking.
Pope Francis emphasized the need for international cooperation by joining global religious leaders in pledging to collaborate to end this crime against humanity by 2020.
Signatories of the "Declaration of Religious Leaders against Slavery" included Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, and Sunni and Shiite Muslim leaders.
"We pledge ourselves here today to do all in our power, within our faith communities and beyond, to work together for the freedom of all those who are enslaved and trafficked so that their future may be restored," the statement read.
At the signing, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, commented: "The evils we seek to combat will not yield without struggle. The complex global environment is why we need the strongest possible collaboration between national governments everywhere, with the business sector, police forces, civil society, faith communities and all those who long to see all humanity live in freedom."
He offered several ways to become involved:
1. Educate faith communities about human trafficking.
2. Support, respect and welcome persons freed from slavery into communities.
3. Urge leaders to establish more effective laws to combat human trafficking.
4. Ensure that purchases are from businesses with slave-free supply chains.
5. Increase collaborative efforts.
Editor's note: Previous columns related to human trafficking are available here. A July 2014 article series about how Baptists are engaging this issue is available here.