Here is my latest article for Aleteia–commenting on Pope Francis’ recent conference on human trafficking and sex slavery. The article also discusses the history of slavery and gives a summary of Biblical teaching and the development of the church’s position on slavery.
Critics of the Christian tolerance of slavery should be informed that it was actually the insights of St. Paul in Galatians which first suggested that the idea of slavery was intolerable, stating that it went against the ideal of Christian brotherhood, which was grounded in equality in Christ.
It was Christian saints like Patrick, Wulfstan, and Anselm who taught prophetically against slavery, and Pope Paul III and others over the course of four centuries to Gregory XVI who spoke out increasingly against slavery. That individual Catholics disregarded papal teaching and continued to support slavery only shows that many Catholics are bad Catholics.
The problem with slavery today is that we think we have abolished it in the modern world. At least when slavery was legal it was controlled, and humane conditions were demanded. Now, since we are under the delusion that slavery does not exist, the conditions are more horrible than ever. Because we think slavery and human trafficking is a thing of the past, today’s slave masters inflict more torture, cruelty, and terrible suffering than we can imagine.
Did the Catholic Church support slavery? The answer is ‘no’ go to the article for the full story.