Pope, Anglican leader join forces against human trafficking

Mon Jun 16, 2014 8:26am EDT
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis and Britain's Archbishop of Canterbury committed their Churches on Monday to work more closely together to fight "the grave evil" of human trafficking and modern slavery.

Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the world's 80 million Anglicans, held talks with Francis at the Vatican on how to combat what both Churches have called a crime against humanity.

"It is a crime that we all need to overcome as a matter of urgency, as a matter of human dignity, freedom and wholeness of life. May God give us the resolve and cooperation we need together," Welby told the pope in his address.

Francis, leader of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, spoke of their shared "horror in the face of the scourge of human trafficking and forms of modern-day slavery".

"(The Churches must) stand together, with perseverance and determination, in opposing this grave evil," the pope added.

According to a global slavery index issued last year by the Walk Free Foundation charity, nearly 30 million people, including children, live in slavery worldwide, many of them trafficked by gangs for sex work and unskilled labor.

Welby, 58, is the 109th leader of the Church which was formed when England's King Henry VIII split from Rome in 1534.

Neither Welby nor Francis spoke of the doctrinal differences dividing the two Churches, such as a female priesthood, which the Anglican Church allows but Rome forbids.   Continued...

Pope Francis (L) poses with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during a private meeting at the Vatican June 16, 2014.  REUTERS/Osservatore Romano