(WNN) Vatican City, ITALY, WESTERN EUROPE: As the Vatican places emergency needs to stop global sex-trafficking and all forms of human trafficking on the top of its ‘to do’ list, Pope Francis had a private meeting yesterday with survivors of modern sex slavery from the Pontiff’s home region of Argentina in a conference to combat human trafficking and child exploitation.
At the event, called ‘Church and Law Enforcement in Partnership’, survivors of sex-trafficking from Hungary, Chile and the Czech Republic, who were also greeted by the Pope.
Hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and organized by organized by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales the Vatican event brought sex-trafficking global police watch-dogs INTERPOL together with other police forces around the world. It also brought discussion between active members of the Catholic church, with members of foreign governments who are working today to slow the rising tide of crime in the worldwide human sex-trafficking industry.
“It is a crime against humanity,” said Pope Francis on Thursday on the last day of the event that ran for two days on April 2 and 10. “Our meeting today includes law enforcement authorities, who are primarily responsible for combating this tragic reality by a vigorous application of the law. It also includes humanitarian and social workers, whose task it is to provide victims with welcome, human warmth and the possibility of building a new life,” continued the Pope.
“These are two different approaches, but they can and must go together. To dialogue and exchange views on the basis of these two complementary approaches is quite important. Conferences such as this are extremely helpful, and, I would say, much needed,” Pope Francis added.
“His Holiness Pope Francis has described modern slavery as ‘a crime against humanity’. There can be few descriptions that so aptly match the appalling nature of this crime. The men, women and children who are forced, tricked and coerced into servitude and abuse, are often the world’s most vulnerable,” said former U.K. Government’s Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Theresa May.
Following the final discussions for the conference on Thursday at the Vatican, Pope Frances stayed with the topic of child exploitation. He also apologized publicly on Friday about the Church’s damage against those who have been sexually abused by priests. During a different event hosted by child protection advocates the International Catholic Child Bureau the Pontiff gave an ‘unscripted’ apology to the public saying the Vatican would not “step backward” in dealing with priests who are child predators.
“I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests–quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests–to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children,” said the Pope who also described intensified efforts by the Church to go after those who have committed crimes, including Bishops.
But those who represent survivors who have been abused by priests as children, namely SNAP – The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, remain skeptical. The do not believe the Church really means what it’s saying.
“We beg the world’s Catholics: be impressed by deeds, not words. Until the Pope takes decisive action that protects kids be skeptical and vigilant,” says SNAP Outreach Director Barbara Dorris.
“This may be the first time a Pope has talked of sanctions against complicit bishops. But that is all it is: talk. (and if this ever happens, many, many tangible steps to safeguard children in the church must be taken),” Dorris continued.
In February 2014 a United States Catholic Archdiocese in Los Angeles, California closed what has been described as a decade of priest molestations lawsuit cases under what advocates called “wrenching” courtroom litigation. The combined court cases cost the Catholic Church more than $740 million.