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Pope Francis sends message to the Santa Marta Group

Cardinal Vincent Nichols shakes hands with Pope Francis in the Synod Hall

At 11:15 this morning, at the Consistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace, His Holiness Pope Francis received an audience with members of the “Santa Marta Group” on the occasion of their conference sponsored by international organisations against the trafficking of human beings (26-27 October 2016).

We publish the following words of greeting from the Pope to those present at the audience:

Greeting from the Holy Father

Dear brother Bishops,
Distinguished gentlemen and ladies,

It is with great pleasure that I meet you on the occasion of this conference which develops our collaboration against the trafficking of human beings and the support of the victims. I thank Cardinal Nichols for his words and for the effort that is put into this cause, that constitutes one of the greatest challenges of our time.

The Santa Marta Group, that brings together ecclesiastical and civil authorities, gives an important contribution to combatting the social evil of the trafficking of people, linked to a new form of slavery, whose victims are men and women, often minors, exploited by the taking advantage of their poverty and marginalisation. As I wrote to you a year ago on the occasion of your meeting at the Escorial, what is needed is a concerted effort, active and constant, to both eliminate the cause of this complicated phenomenon, and to meet, to assist and to accompany the people that fall into the traps of trafficking. The number of these victims – international organisations say – grows, unfortunately, every year. They are helpless, their dignity is stolen, their physical and psychological integrity, and even their life.

Dear friends, I thank you and I encourage you to continue in this cause. The Lord will reward what is done for the children of today’s society. He says: “I was hungry… I was thirsty…” and you helped me; today it could also be said: “I was abused, exploited, imprisoned…” and you rescued me.

I continue to accompany you in my closeness and in my prayers. You too, please, pray for me. Thank you.