DAGUPAN City, Pangasinan, Dec. 10, 2014—A Catholic prelate asserts the Good News holds the key to solving the pestilence that is human trafficking.
In his recent pastoral letter, the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, calls on the faithful to tackle the problem head-on through the Gospel.
“There is no substitute for turning to the Gospel in response to this scourge. So let us do it,” he says.
Christ in every victim
“… when we commit ourselves anew to the spirit of evangelization of every heart and home, we must never for a moment forget that we are each our brother’s keepers, and that a part of ourselves is trafficked every time a brother or sister of ours is,” explained Villegas.
The prelate, however, believes that people should not only see themselves in the face of every victim, but more importantly to “see Christ in every victim’s face”.
“… because we cannot allow to see our Lord trafficked, neither can we allow the least of our brethren to be so exploited,” he adds.
Quoting Jesus in Mt. 25:40, Villegas notes, “Whatever you did to the least of my brethren, you did unto me.”
According to him, God created man in His own image and redeemed him from sin through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Sacred and inviolate, therefore, is his human dignity. Yet, time and again, this dignity has been violated in unspeakable ways. Human trafficking is one such violation that directly assaults such dignity,” he stresses.
Villegas explains human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that is just as dehumanizing and cruel as any old form of slavery.
“It is the illegal trade in persons, inhuman organs, in human values, as though these were commercial commodities. Through the use of force, deception, violence, and taking advantage of the vulnerability of victims, men and women are exploited physically, sexually, psychologically, morally, spiritually for the material gain of the traffickers. The victims are our brothers and sisters whom we know and do not know,” he laments.
The prelate states that every year about 800,000 children, women and men are trafficked across international borders around the world. Some 30 million people are presently enslaved. About 150,000 of these are said to be Filipinos, most of them children who are physically exploited and sexually abused.
“Every year, many Filipino men and women who migrate abroad for work end up in conditions of involuntary servitude,” he says.
While it does not characterize the general condition of the Filipino diaspora, Villegas points out that one Filipino victim of human trafficking alone is “one victim too many for us as a Christian nation,” adding that Filipinos should have zero tolerance for this evil.
“In the middle of their sufferings, the victims often find themselves alone and lost, with no one to turn to but their God, our Lord. There is no greater comfort than to seek solace from our Lord, especially so when no human relief appears to be on sight,” he says. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCPNews)