By Emily Antenucci
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY — To enhance cooperation between the Catholic Church and law enforcement agencies working in the field, the Second International Human Trafficking Conference will take place in Rome April 9-10.
The conference will bring together church leaders and the heads of police services from at least fourteen countries, including Brazil, India, Albania, Australia, and Germany.
As Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster explained to reporters in Rome Feb. 24, “it is something very important to us as the church in England that here are very hopeless victims, and by attending to their needs, we can actually make a huge contribution with the police to tackle this problem.”
The conference will highlight the church’s distinctively victim-driven approach to the problem. Because victims of trafficking typically feel trapped and helpless, they often turn to the church as a safe haven: both as a place providing refuge and a comfortable environment where they can feel enough at ease to open up about their experiences. Finally, when the victims are ready, the church works towards their reintegration, either in their native countries or in England.
Cardinal Nichols said the church should not be satisfied with helping only victims who have escaped trafficking. Law enforcement agencies depend on information from church agencies, which in turn depend on the support and protection of the police.
In the words of Cardinal Nichols, “This is a really important initiative…it’s not the only initiative with regard to human trafficking , but it is a unique initiative because it talks about the practice, the day by day work to counter real scourge around the world, of commercial trafficking of human beings.”
Emily Antenucci is an intern in the CNS Rome bureau while she attends Villanova University’s Rome program.