ROME (CNS): Women religious from around the world have formed a global network aimed at combating human trafficking.
More than 30 nuns from 26 nations launched the initiative called the “International Network of Religious Against Trafficking in Persons” during a conference on human trafficking on October 15-19 in Rome.
The conference and training seminar were funded by the US Department of State.
The events were organised by the US Embassy to the Vatican and the Italian Union of Major Superiors, which, together with the International Organisation for Migration, designed the training program that helps foreign women flee forced prostitution.
Once upon a time, the notion of human trafficking “was a kind of global family secret”, Vatican undersecretary of state Msgr Pietro Parolin said.
But now, he said, thanks to public awareness campaigns, more people know about this $12 billion business, which in 2005 was built on the forced labor of at least 12 million people.
However, he expressed hope that greater attention will translate into more decisive responses to the problem.
“The scourge of human trafficking is a critical (issue) for the Holy See,” he said, giving the Vatican’s full support for “the increasing numbers of consecrated persons engaged in this fight”.
Sr Susan Maloney, of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, told participants that women religious “have committed to take on the great moral evil of human trafficking”, which she said is the “great ministry of the 21st century”.
Numerous anti-trafficking training programs co-ordinated by the Italian Union of Major Superiors have been held in different parts of the world since 2002.