- Dec 10, 2019
Human trafficking and its root causes can be eliminated with the cooperation of the international community, the Vatican’s representative to the United Nations said Tuesday.
Pope Francis concludes his five-day visit to Colombia in Cartagena today. There, he is sure to refer to St. Peter Claver, a fellow Jesuit who promoted human rights and fought slavery. He also will pray the Angelus outside the parish where St. Peter watched slave ships arrive in the late 1500s and offered humane treatment to those arriving in chains.
The body of St. Peter Claver is kept and venerated in a shrine in Cartagena, which Pope Francis will visit on Sunday Sept. 10, one day after the saint’s feast day. The legacy of St. Peter Claver is strong in the United States as well, where in the early 20th century the Knights of Peter Claver were founded in his honor in Mobile, Alabama.
“Do you know where the gold in your crucifix came from?” Simone Blanchard, an expert on ethical trade from Catholic Relief Services, asked. In many cases, she explains, it was procured by children in Peru, forced to work in the gold mines, an illustration of the global reach of human trafficking, estimated at $150 billion in annual profit to be the world’s third most lucrative illegal industry.
Born into slavery in the 19th century and later the servant of a wealthy white socialite in Denver, Julia Greeley is now a candidate for sainthood. Despite her own difficult circumstances, in part the result of being caught up in a soap opera divorce involving the Colorado governor, she gave everything she had to serve the poor and to spread devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
“Today, we say that the death penalty is inadmissible,” Pope Francis said during his morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae where he lives. Slavery “is a mortal sin; today we say this. Back then, some would say that this could be done because these people did not have a soul!”