Conference looks at Catholic community’s role in fighting trafficking

By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Human trafficking illustrates Pope Francis’ lament that "we live in ‘throwaway culture,’ in which people are discarded as quickly and easily as an old, worn out shoe," a bishop told a Washington conference.

"Victims of forced labor or sexual slavery are seen by their perpetrators as objects to be exploited, used up and forgotten," Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio L. Elizondo of Seattle said.

The bishop, who is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration, delivered opening remarks at a trafficking conference held at The Catholic University of America, July 9-10, drawing clergy, women religious, Catholic Charities employees and lay parish leaders.

"Just as our misguided self-indulgence can promote an understanding of nature as something to be exploited and used for our own immediate desires, it is this same kind of self-centeredness that all too easily seduces us to look at others as objects made for our own personal use," Bishop Elizondo said in his remarks July 9.

He praised those who had been fighting for the victims of human trafficking even before "movies like ‘Taken’ had become box office hits," referring to a Hollywood film about an American girl who is kidnapped by sex traffickers while visiting Paris and eventually rescued by her father.

The bishop called on law schools to help provide legal support to survivors navigating the legal system and urged medical and psychological professionals to donate time to help trafficking victims cope with their trauma and begin the healing process.

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