Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster

Cardinal Vincent Reaffirms Church's Commitment to Combating Modern Slavery

In an address given at a service to commemorate the work of William Wilberforce and to inaugurate the office of the Anti-slavery Commissioner at Westminster Abbey on 12 October, Cardinal Vincent reaffirmed the Church's commitment to combating modern slavery. 

Comparing the current situation with the one facing Wilberforce, the politician who campaigned to abolish the slave trade in the eighteenth century, the Cardinal explained that then, as now, it 'disfigures our society and calls for an unremitting effort to bring it to an end'.

'Human trafficking and modern day slavery are perpetrated by large, criminal international networks,' he said and emphasised that the Catholic Church is 'slowly mobilising its considerable, international networks, contacts and resources' in an effort to eradicate this trade.

The Cardinal paid tribute to the work of religious sisters, working in the Talitha Kum network, who 'put their lives at risk every day to get close to the victims of human trafficking in the most dangerous of circumstances'.

He expressed his confidence that the Government, already known for working to combat human trafficking, would work with the Government of France, to tackle child exploitation in the Calais camps and 'very urgently improve the effectiveness of the asylum-seeking procedures, especially for children there, who may well have a right to be here and are certainly at terrible risk in the coming weeks'.

Speaking of the Santa Marta Group, the international effort of the Catholic Church working with law enforcement agencies and the Church of England World Wide, he said that the progress it has made has been 'effective and measurable', and said that when it presents its progress reports to Pope Francis in two weeks times, he felt confident that the Holy Father would be 'greatly encouraged'.

Also speaking at the service and reaffirming their commitment to combating human trafficking and modern slavery were Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Prime Minister Theresa May and Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland.

The full text of Cardinal Vincent's address can be found here.

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