Cardinal says human slavery getting worse

Cardinal says human slavery getting worse Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster is pictured in May 19, 2022 (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Parishes asked to increase awareness of trafficking

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster has told a top level summit of police chiefs, Irish bishops and justice personnel that the crime of human trafficking is getting worse.

The Senior Leadership Summit on collectively combatting human trafficking was held in UCC, Cork from June 26 to 27.

This event gathered high-ranking police from the USA, UK and Ireland, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, Kevin Hyland of the Santa Marta Group set up by Pope Francis, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, Bishop Alan McGuckian of Down and Connor, Bishop Fintan Gavin of Cork and Ross, and well-known Mercy sister Sr Liz Murphy, representing Act to Prevent Trafficking (APT).

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of Santa Marta Group, highlighted in his introduction the fact that “things are getting worse,” with regards to the crime of human trafficking and that we must “encourage each other, deepen our relationships and deepen our sense of common purpose.”

The Cardinal distinguished between human rights parlance and human dignity which is innate in each of us.  The conference heard from two victims of trafficking.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said “In Ireland, like elsewhere, these victims are often ‘hidden in plain sight’.  She added: “We want Ireland as a society to be aware of this reality.”

Sr Liz Murphy, speaking to The State of the Nation podcast, said that trafficking is more than just putting people into prostitution. “It’s now spread into the movement of people…the slavery of people, whether it’s agriculture, domestic service, the sex trade, wherever, like even the various service level industries.”

Prior to the Summit the Irish bishops called on parishes to be vigilant around vulnerable people who may have been trafficked and are being exploited locally.  “Parishes, too, can play their part.  By becoming more informed, by learning the tell-tale signs of trafficking, by increasing awareness of the available support services for victims in place and finding out what to do if you suspect someone in your local area has been trafficked here..  We also ask people to pray for those suffering as a result of trafficking and to bring that prayer to action by becoming the eyes and ears- and the voice- that victims need in our midst.  It is never to late to take action” the bishops said.

As Sr Liz said, “This is a crime against humanity”.