I would like to warmly greet you and renew the expression of my esteem for your cooperation and contribution towards human and social progress, a task of which the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences is more than capable.
If I’m happy for this contribution and proud of you, it is in consideration of the remarkable service you can offer to humanity — both through an understanding of indifference and its extreme forms in the globalised world — and through solutions facing this challenge, trying to improve the living conditions of the needy among our brothers and sisters. Following Christ, the Church is called to engage and to be faithful to people, even more in the case of situations where open wounds and dramatic suffering are present, and where values, ethics, social sciences and faith are involved; situations in which the testimony of you all as individuals and humanists, together with your own social expertise, is particularly appreciated.
AIUTA CON UN PICCOLO CONTRIBUTO:
In the course of these recent years there have been many important activities at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences under the vigorous drive of its President, Chancellor and some external collaborators of prestigious reputation, whom I thank from the heart. Activities in defence of the dignity and freedom of men and women today and, in particular, to eradicate human trafficking and smuggling and the new forms of slavery such as forced labour, prostitution, organ trafficking, the drug trade and organised crime. As my predecessor Benedict XVI said, and I’ve affirmed it myself on several occasions, these are real crimes against humanity that should be recognised as such by all religious, political and social leaders — and reflected in national and international laws.
The meeting on 2 December 2014 with the leaders of today’s most influential religions in this globalised world, and the summit on 21 July 2015 with the mayors of the major cities of the world, have shown the willingness of this Academy to pursue the eradication of new forms of slavery. I hold a special memory of these two meetings, as well as the noteworthy youth symposiums, all due to the initiative of the Academy.
Now, inspired by the same motivation, the Academy has brought you together, judges and prosecutors from around the world, with practical experience and wisdom in eradicating human trafficking, smuggling and organised crime. You have come here representing your colleagues with the praiseworthy aim of making progress in spreading awareness of these scourges and consequently manifesting your irreplaceable mission to face the new challenges posed by the globalisation of indifference, responding to society’s growing concern and respecting national and international laws. Taking charge of one’s own vocation also means feeling, and proclaiming oneself, free from the pressures of governments, private institutions and, of course, the “structures of sin” of which my predecessor John Paul II spoke, particularly in regard to organised crime. Without this freedom, a nation’s judiciary is corrupted and corrupting.
Fortunately, for the realisation of this complex and delicate human and Christian project of freeing humanity from the new slaveries and organised crime, which the Academy has undertaken following my request, we can also count on the important and decisive synergy with the United Nations. I am thankful that the representatives of the 193 UN member states unanimously approved the new Sustainable Development Goals, and in particular Goal 8.7. This reads: “Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms”. We can very well say that such goals and targets are now a moral imperative for all member states of the UN.
To this end, we must generate a crosscutting wave of “good vibes” to embrace the whole of society from top to bottom and vice versa, from the periphery to the centre and back, from leaders to communities, and from villages and public opinion to the key players in society. As the religious, social and civic leaders have realised, achieving this requires that judges too become fully aware of this challenge, feeling the importance of their responsibility towards society, sharing their experiences and best practices and acting together to break down barriers and open new paths of justice to promote human dignity, freedom, responsibility, happiness and, ultimately, peace. Without over-extending a metaphor, we could say that the judge is to justice as the religious leader and the philosopher are to morality, and the ruler — or whichever personalised figure of sovereign power — is to the political. But only in the figure of the judge is justice recognised as the first attribute of society.
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