By ZENIT Staff

“Pope Francis has called us to hear the cry of our sisters and brothers trapped in modern slavery. His message is particularly important during this global pandemic,” said Cardinal Vincent Nicholas of Westminster in a statement issued April 9, 2020.

“While all our families and communities are affected, those held in slavery cannot self-isolate, social distance or receive medical care,” the Cardinal said. “Even in the midst of this crisis, human beings in our own country and overseas are still being exploited by criminals with contempt for their dignity or even health.

“Women and girls trapped in sexual exploitation are at particular risk. The pandemic is placing enormous pressure on the resources of police forces and civil society, reducing their capacity to rescue people from slavery and care for survivors. The scale of this challenge is unprecedented. Immigration detention centers, where survivors of modern slavery often find themselves, remain operating at great risk to all those detained.

“We all have a responsibility to protect these vulnerable people. I urge the Government to ensure that its response to modern slavery is constantly addressed. I support the call made in a cross-party letter to the Home Secretary that adequate accommodation and support services be made available to survivors. I also urge Catholics to support organizations working directly to help those suffering the evil of slavery.

“We ask for the intercession of St Josephine Bakhita and pray for all those affected by this crime.”

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