Pope calls for eradication of child slavery

On the occasion of the murder 26 years ago of the Christian child Iqbal Masih at the hands of Pakistani upholstery mafias, the author reflects on the drama of child slavery with the words of Pope Francis.

April 19, 2021-Reading time: 2 minutes

April 16 marked the 26th anniversary of the murder of the Christian boy Iqbal Masih at the hands of Pakistan's upholstery mafias. His crime was to denounce the slavery to which he was subjected, and to which millions of children around the world continue to be subjected today. With the pandemic, the suffering of these children has continued to increase.

Crises, such as those we are currently experiencing, and whose cycles we see repeating themselves in ever shorter periods, have not been the opportunity to rethink radical transformations more favorable to an economy centered on the common good. They are crises that have been taken advantage of by the best placed, by those who benefit the most from this economy.

Pope Francis makes constant appeals to eliminate this plague for which we will be accountable to God.

Child slavery is "a despicable phenomenon on the rise especially in the poorest countries," Francis recalled at the beginning of his pontificate, during the general audience he held in St. Peter's Square on June 12, 2013.

"Millions of children, especially girls, are forced to work, mainly in domestic labor, which involves abuse and mistreatment. This is slavery and I hope that the international community will take more action to tackle this real scourge," the Pope urged. Every child in the world must have the right to play, study, pray and grow up in a family and in the harmonious context of love.

In the catechesis of June 11, 2014, dedicated to the "fear of God", Francis said: "I think of those who live from human trafficking and slave labor: do you think that these people have in their hearts the love of God, one who traffics people, one who exploits people with slave labor? No! They have no fear of God. And they are not happy. They are not." "May the fear of God make them understand that one day everything ends and that they will be accountable to God."

Speaking to the Diplomatic Corps in January 2018, Pope Francis stated, "We cannot claim to envision a better future, nor expect to build more inclusive societies, if we continue to maintain economic models geared to mere profit and the exploitation of the weakest, such as children. Eliminating the structural causes of this scourge should be a priority for governments and international organizations, which are called upon to intensify their efforts to adopt integrated strategies and coordinated policies aimed at eliminating child labor in all its forms".

We are all responsible for all. The fight against child slavery must at all times be linked to the fight against an economy that kills and to the fight for the unequivocal recognition of the inalienable dignity of every human life in all its stages and circumstances.

The authorJaime Gutiérrez Villanueva

Pastor of the parishes of Santa María Reparadora and Santa María de los Ángeles, Santander.

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