Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking.

It happens here. But we can stop it.

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The evil of human trafficking is an international, national and local scourge, and a grave violation of the dignity and freedom of all its victims. And Maryland is not immune from this evil. Human trafficking includes both labor and sex trafficking, and rivals the global drug industry in its scope and profits, affecting the lives of countless victims from all over the world.

As people of faith, the grave injustice of human trafficking cries out for a response. As our bishops remind us: "The Gospel calls us to break this yoke of modern-day slavery by raising awareness about the scope of this problem and doing all that we can as Catholics to recognize, set free, embrace and empower our brothers and sisters who are victims of human trafficking." 

Read the full statement by Maryland's Bishops HERE.

Proclaiming Liberty to Captives

Proclaiming Liberty to Captives is a joint initiative of the Maryland Catholic Conference, the Bishops of Maryland, The Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force and the Catholic Charities of Maryland's (Arch)dioceses to raise awareness of human trafficking and direct people of faith to action. 

The Maryland Catholic Conference, together with the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force and the Catholic Charities of the three (Arch)dioceses, is hosting free info sessions at parishes across the state to help raise awareness of human trafficking. 

The Catholic understanding of the “right to life” is rooted in its understanding of the fifth commandment, “You shall not kill.” The Church’s deep and multifaceted understanding of this commandment includes a respect for bodily integrity, which states: “Kidnapping and hostage taking bring on a reign of terror; by means of threats they subject their victims to intolerable pressures. They are morally wrong” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2297). Additionally, Church social teaching “forbids acts or enterprises that… lead to the enslavement of human beings, to their being bought, sold and exchanged like merchandise, in disregard for their personal dignity. It is a sin against the dignity of persons and their fundamental rights to reduce them by violence to their productive value or to a source of profit” (CCC, #2455).

Human labor trafficking and sex trafficking activities directly violate its victims bodily integrity and inherent human dignity: the “reign of terror” associated with these activities’ psychological, physical, and spiritual effects are inherently opposed to a respect for life.  Unfortunately, this violation of human dignity is quickly becoming a very local problem: Maryland’s proximity to major transportation corridors and airports make it an attractive location for human trafficking, and trafficking activities in Maryland are on the rise: 2014 saw a 54 percent increase in the volume of victims assisted by the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, compared to the year before.

In the public square, the Church works to combat labor and sex trafficking through through its spiritual, charitable, and advocacy activities: on a local level, the Maryland Catholic Conference supports this mission through the joint efforts of the Respect for Life Department and Social and Economic Justice Department. Together, these offices jointly work to advocate for policies that weaken the trafficking economy, support its victims, and increase awareness.

"Whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed." ~ Gaudium et spes #27.

Resources on Catholic Social Teaching

Maryland Resources on Human Trafficking