2022 Assembly


Auxiliary Bishop Puff: “Society must not accept human trafficking”


It should no longer be acceptable for civil society that there are more than 40 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, says Cologne auxiliary bishop Ansgar Puff. The so-called Santa Marta Group has therefore developed recommendations for action.

Cologne – 09.02.2022

In the fight against human trafficking, Catholic bishops are calling for a change in awareness and greater commitment from society. “It must simply no longer be acceptable for civil society that there are more than 40 million victims worldwide,” said the chairman of the working group of the German Bishops’ Conference, Cologne auxiliary bishop Ansgar Puff, to journalists on Wednesday. “And that has to become so ingrained in the consciousness of civil society that everyone says: That must and can no longer exist.”

The first European conference of the so-called Santa Marta group took place from Tuesday to Wednesday. It is a collaboration of high-ranking church officials, law enforcement officials and other organizations initiated by Pope Francis with the aim of ending human trafficking and modern slavery. The Archdiocese of Cologne had invited to the first conference at European level with over 100 participants from around 20 countries. Because of the pandemic, it took place online.

Archbishop Stefan Hesse, chairman of the migration commission of the German Catholic bishops, said that action against human trafficking must be transnational. The churches also have a responsibility here. During the conference, the association worked on an action plan that should be published in the coming days.

Eight recommendations for action

According to Hesse, the eight recommendations for action include making victims of human trafficking visible and rehabilitating them. Those affected also need exit strategies, financial support and secure access to justice.

According to the Archbishop, another goal is compliance with standards in supply chains that do not involve exploitative production. Any form of human trafficking must be punished and combated. Both the bishops’ conference and political representatives at European level should be informed about the results.

Ivonne van de Kar from the European network for religious “RENATE” (Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation) referred to the role model function of church institutions. She also called for more attention to be paid to people affected by human trafficking. “You can’t see what you don’t know about,” she said. (KNA)

Catholic German News, Cologne – 09.02.2022