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Telecom providers have duty to prevent human trafficking, pope says


  • Pope Francis waves as he leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Feb. 9, 2020. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)
  • Pope Francis waves as he leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Feb. 9, 2020. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)
  • Pope Francis leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Feb. 9, 2020. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis reminded telecommunication firms and service providers of their responsibility to help fight human trafficking.

The pope reminded people of the Feb. 8 International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking after praying the Angelus Feb. 9 with visitors in St. Peter's Square.

The Feb. 8 day of prayer falls on the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, who had been sold into slavery as a child.

Everyone must work together to fight human trafficking, a "plague" that takes advantage of the most vulnerable, the pope said. "Everyone's commitment is needed -- institutions, associations and educational groups."

Criminal organizations are increasingly using the latest "forms of communication in order to lure victims through deceit," he said.

That is why prevention requires, on the one hand, educating people how to navigate online safely and, on the other hand, being vigilant and reminding "providers of such telecommunication services of their responsibility," he said.

In his main Angelus talk, the pope reflected on the day's Gospel reading (Mt 5:13-16) in which Jesus told his disciples they are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Pope Francis said being "salt" means having the same qualities of keeping things safe from decay and "corruption."

"The disciple is called, therefore, to keep dangers, corrosive germs that infect people's lives, away from society.

"It is about resisting moral degradation, sin (and) giving witness to the values of honesty and fraternity without giving in to the worldly enticements of careerism, power and wealth," he said.

Christ's disciples are not concerned with approval and consensus but seek to be "humble, constructive" and faithful to the teachings of Jesus, who came to serve, not be served.

"This approach is greatly needed," the pope said.

Being the light of the world means disciples must dispel darkness by helping people see the true light in Christ and proclaiming the Gospel, he said.

"Disciples of Christ are light when they know how to live their faith outside narrow places, when they contribute to getting rid of prejudices and slander and let in the light of truth in situations tainted by hypocrisy and lies."

Jesus tells people to not be afraid of the world, even though they will find problems of conflict and sin, he said.

"Standing before violence, injustice and oppression, Christians cannot close themselves off or hide in the safety of their own enclosure," Pope Francis said. In the same way, the church cannot stop going out and cannot give up on its mission to evangelize and serve the world.

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