The papacy is working hard to combat the sex trade


Source: The Economist


It has other failings. Here, at least, it is sincere

EVEN THE Holy See’s greatest defenders would acknowledge this much: this is not an easy time for the Vatican to be burnishing its credentials as a defender of vulnerable youngsters from exploitation. As a colleague wrote recently, there is good reason to expect the fallout from clerical abuse scandals to get worse. Indeed, there is room to doubt whether the nettle has really been grasped.

But, in what is one of the great paradoxes of the current papacy, Pope Francis has repeatedly returned to the issue of people-trafficking, and the closely related problem of sexual exploitation, especially of minors. In the thinking of the Vatican, the manipulation of vulnerable individuals for the sex trade is the epitome of a darkly materialistic age, when everything can be monetised and intangible values are cast aside. Whenever the pope himself, or his diplomatic representatives, speak before international bodies, including the United Nations, this point is made.

Thus, in a typical iteration of this argument, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic told the UN Human Rights Council earlier this year: “We can defeat trafficking in persons only by eliminating the culture of consumerism which feeds it…We need to foster a culture of respect for the inalienable human dignity of every person.”

Over and above these philosophical assertions, it is acknowledged by people who work in the field (including those who are far from the church) that Catholic-inspired projects and charities have a role to play in combating people-trafficking and the sex trade, one that cannot easily be matched by their secular counterparts.

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