In a groundbreaking collaboration, representatives of Catholic, Anglican and Muslim communities came together on Monday, March 17, in the Vatican Press Office to launch an initiative aimed at fighting human trafficking.
The Global Freedom Network , which will be based in the Vatican, will enable the different faith communities to work closely together to fight trafficking. The collaboration agreement was signed by:
- Catholic Bishop Marcelo Sanches Sorondo, on behalf of Pope Francis. Bishop Sorondo, an Argentinian, is chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Sciences.
- Anglican Archbishop David Moxon of New Zealand, director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Holy See; and
- Muslim Dr. Mahmoud Azab, representing the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, one of the most important centres of Sunni Islam located in Cairo, Egypt.
Vatican Radio reports that
“…the other key figure who put his signature to the document was Australian businessman Andrew Forrest, founder of a philanthropic organisation called the Walk Free Foundation. Set up after Forrest’s daughter travelled to Nepal where children were being caught up in a trafficking for prostitution ring, its aim is to stamp out this modern form of slavery by galvanizing and supporting action at local, national and international level.
Planned actions include urging governments to publicly endorse the establishment of the Global Fund to End Slavery and persuading multi-national businesses to commit to eradicating slavery from their supply chains. By mobilizing the world’s major faith communities, this new Network hopes to bring an end by 2020 to what Pope Francis has dared to call a crime against humanity.”
The group’s originators hope that the effort will expand as representatives of other religions pledge to work together, as well. Although much work is already being done to protect victims, this is the first time that the world’s major religions have banded together to combat the problem.
It’s believed that more than 30 million men, women and children are currently caught in the snare of human traffickers. The Global Freedom Network hopes to change minds and hearts and influence policy– eradicating slavery by encouraging governments, businesses, educational and faith institutions to block employment of slave labor, either in their own establishments or among suppliers. The Network also will work to convince 160 governments globally to endorse a seven-year, $100 million fundraising effort for anti-slavery initiatives.