As Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, the future pope dragged the hidden problem of human slavery into broad daylight.
He held annual open-air Masses in the city’s Constitution Square for and with victims of human trafficking—many of them children accompanied by their enormous burlap sacks stuffed with recyclable cardboard.
In his homilies, he denounced their oppressors, as he did in 2010 when he condemned the “great mafia of very elegant people”—the traffickers and those who profit from the illegal trade—whose “money is stained with blood.”
Now, as leader of the universal church, Pope Francis is dragging the blight of human trafficking onto the global stage, calling it “a crime against humanity” and decrying the world’s indifference.
The United Nations estimates 2.4 million people are trafficked at any given time and their exploitation generates $32 billion in annual profits for criminals. The Global Slavery Index estimates nearly 30 million people worldwide are living in slave-like conditions.
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