Vatican Media Watch

Human Trafficking Worse Than African Slave Trade 

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Nov. 14 — A top Vatican official said trafficking in humans — including women forced to become prostitutes, and children forced into labor — is worse today than the trade in African slaves of past centuries, reported the Associated Press.

“This trafficking in human beings has intensified, persons put into slavery because they depend on certain criminals who take possession of these human beings,” said Cardinal Renato Martino, former longtime Vatican envoy to the United Nations and current head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

“It’s worse than the slavery of those ... taken from Africa and brought to other countries,” Cardinal Martino told a news conference to present Pope Benedict XVI’s annual message dealing with the problems of migrants.

The cardinal challenged countries to combat modern-day forms of slavery — minors who are sold to do child labor or who are forced to be soldiers, as well as women forced to prostitute themselves. He said, “In a world that proclaims human rights left and right, let’s see what it does about the rights of so many human beings which are not respected, but trampled.”

Pope Urges Talks to Make Korea Nuclear Free

YONHAP NEWS, Nov. 13 — In his first public comment on the issue of security on the Korean peninsula, Pope Benedict said the North Korean nuclear dispute should be resolved through negotiations, the Korean news service reported.

“The Holy See encourages bilateral or multilateral negotiations, convinced that the solution must be sought through peaceful means and in respect for agreements taken by all sides to obtain the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” the Holy Father said in a speech to the new Japanese ambassador to the Vatican.

“More than ever, the search for peace among nations must be a priority in international relations,” the Pope said. “The crises which the world knows cannot find definitive solutions through violence — on the contrary, they are resolved through peaceful means in respect for agreements.”
Pope Benedict also said he “strongly urges the international community to pursue and intensify its humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable populations, notably in North Korea.”
Late last month, North Korea agreed to end its year-long boycott of international disarmament talks on its nuclear program, raising hope of easing the security tension deepened by its defiant nuclear test on Oct. 9.

Muslim Praises Pope’s ‘Thirst’ to Understand Islam

REUTERS, Nov. 14 — A Muslim philosopher said Pope Benedict has a real thirst for understanding Islam and conducting a sincere dialogue with its followers, Reuters reported.

Mustapha Cherif, a former higher education minister and ambassador of his native Algeria, said the Holy Father showed during a Nov. 11 meeting at the Vatican he wanted to understand Muslim views on jihad and the role of reason in faith. The Pope also wanted to explore how the faiths could work together.

“He is a great theologian but not an expert in Islam,” Cherif, the first Muslim intellectual received by Benedict since his election in April 2005, said. “What touched me was his thirst to understand. He is a man of dialogue.”