[Lambeth Palace] The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis have given their backing to a ground-breaking ecumenical initiative to combat modern slavery and human trafficking.
The agreement to help eradicate an injustice affecting up to 29million people was co-signed on March 17th by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See, Archbishop Sir David Moxon, the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Science, Bishop Sanchez Sorondo and Mr Andrew Forrest, the founder of the large international philanthropic anti-slavery organisation from Perth, Western Australia “Walk Free”.
In a statement the Archbishop of Canterbury said:
“Anglicans and Roman Catholics have, since 1966, been in serious and prayerful dialogue with each other, to seek the unity that Christ wills for his church in the world. Jesus has said “ May they all be one,” and this imperative has inspired and sustained the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission, and the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, for many years as an act of faith.
“We are now being challenged in these days to find more profound ways of putting our ministry and mission where our faith is; and being called into a deeper unity on the side of the poor and in the cause of the justice and righteousness of God. For this reason, the new Global Freedom Network is being created to join the struggle against modern slavery and human trafficking from a faith base, so that we might witness to God’s compassion and act for the benefit of those who are abducted, enslaved and abused in this terrible crime.
“Many are already engaged in the struggle and we join them with much to learn as well as much to contribute. All are called to join common cause to end this crime and suffering. The more we share the pain and oppression of the poor and suffering in the name of God, the more God will draw us closer to each other, because we will need each other’s strength and support to make the kind of difference that is needed. We are struggling against evil in secret places and in deeply entrenched networks of malice and cruelty. No one of us is strong enough, but together we are ready for the challenge God is placing before us today, and we know that he will strengthen us so that all people may live in freedom and dignity.”
About the Global Freedom Network
The Global Freedom Network has some of its earliest roots in the deep concerns about modern slavery shared when Archbishop Justin Welby visited Pope Francis in June 2013, followed by a conference held at the Vatican in early November on the initiative of Pope Francis, the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Science (PASS). Bishop Sanchez Sorondo, Mr Andrew Forrest, John McCarthy, Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, Archbishop David and Antonia Stampalija, a faith-based strategic planner from Western Australia, helped facilitate the process that led to the Network being created.
The Revd Rachel Carnegie, co- director of the Anglican Alliance network, is a member of the new Global Freedom Network Council. The Network has a Muslim representative partner on its Council and will seek to include other faiths over time, as there needs to be a multi-faith approach to this multi-national tragedy.
It is estimated that between 12 and 27 million people worldwide are enslaved into forced labour and sexual exploitation. Each year, about 2 million people are victims of sexual trafficking, 60% of whom are girls. Human organ trafficking is rife: annually around 20,000 people are forced or deceived into giving up an organ (liver, kidney, pancreas, cornea, lung, even the heart).