Holy Father Pope Francis has sent a video message to the Forum on modern-day slavery, which runs from 5th-8th May 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The event is being hosted by the Orthodox Archdiocese of Buenos Aires and co-sponsored by the Patriarch Athenagoras Institute in Berkely, California. His Holiness Pope Francis has called for a concerted effort on the part of all actors of society to address the root causes of human trafficking – which he describes as a crime against humanity – and to promote integral human development in building a renewed society based on freedom, justice and peace.

As reported by en.vaticannews.va, Holy Father Pope Francis remarked that “It is not enough that some States and International Organizations adopt a particularly harsh policy in order to punish the exploitation of human beings if afterwards the causes are not addressed, the deepest roots of the problem.  When countries suffer extreme poverty, suffer violence and corruption, neither the economy, nor the legislative framework, nor the basic infrastructures are effective; they fail to guarantee security or assets or essential rights. In this way, it is easier for the perpetrators of these crimes to continue acting with total impunity.” Further, His Holiness added, “Organized crime and the illegal trafficking of human beings choose their victims among people who today have little means of subsistence and even less hope for the future. To be more clear: among the poorest, among the most neglected, the most discarded. The basic response lies in creating opportunities for integral human development, starting with a quality education: this is the key point, quality education from early childhood, to continue generating new opportunities for growth through employment. Education and employment.”

The Pontiff concluded his video message by reminding the participants of the forum that the work of ending modern day slavery will be long, requiring courage, patience and perseverance.  The forum is a continuation of the work begun by the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew, who is the leader of the Orthodox Churches, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. The two church leaders convoked a similar conference in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2017.