DAGUPAN City, Pangasinan, Dec. 14, 2014—The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) echoes the concern of Pope Francis for victims of human trafficking, stressing the importance of the concerted efforts of all sectors to help end it.
In his recent pastoral letter, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas calls the problem as an evil that is so pervasive and its perpetrators so determined that utmost cooperation between Church and State, between citizens and government agencies, is needed to crush the efforts of those promoting human trafficking and forced labor.
Quoting the pontiff, the CBCP chief stresses it is a disgrace that people are treated as “objects, deceived, raped, often sold many times for different purposes and, in the end, killed or, in any case, physically and mentally damaged, ending up thrown away and abandoned”.
Villegas notes it would be a more terrible disgrace if “we who hear or read about the fate of victims could only think of ourselves lucky that we have been spared from such fate, but feel no compulsion to share or mitigate the suffering of the victims or wish to curb it”.
“A Christian should be willing to sleep on the floor if his brother has no roof over his head, and forego his meal if his brother has nothing to eat,” the prelate states.
According to him, in today’s “globalized” and consumeristic world”, the most vulnerable are sold as slaves, prostitutes, organ-donors, and pawns in criminal enterprise, armed activities and conflicts.
Villegas points to the “worship of creatures” and the “idolatry of money” as the first obstacles which the society and the individual must deal with in order to end human trafficking.
“So long as there are huge profits to be made from human trafficking, this transnational crime will continue to defy national and international laws, and religious and moral strictures and norms,” he says.
“The Holy Father describes human trafficking as an ‘open wound on the body of contemporary society,’ a ‘scourge upon the body of Christ,’ a ‘crime against humanity,’ and a ‘grave violation of fundamental human rights’,” he adds.
In his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis cites Scripture, asking, “Where is your brother? Where is your brother or sister who is enslaved? Where is the brother and sister whom you are killing each day in clandestine warehouses, in rings of prostitution, in children used for begging, in exploiting undocumented labor?”
“Let us not look the other way. There is greater complicity than we think. The issue involves everyone! This infamous network of crime is now well established in our cities, and many people have blood on their hands as a result of their comfortable and silent complicity,” he adds. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCPNews)