RENATE (Religious in Europe Networking against Trafficking and Exploitation) has welcomed 130 members from many European countries, to Rome, for their second European Assembly (6-12 November 2016). Here they reflected, learnt, dialogued and shared best practices to combat human trafficking and exploitation. They were motivated by excellent inputs, workshops, presentations and through the testimony of the survivors of this modern slavery. During the second day of the assembly the RENATE Members had a special meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican and each participant had the privilege of greeting His Holiness in person. This was a joyful day for each of them. Imelda Poole IBVM, the President of RENATE, thanked Pope Francis on behalf of the organization, citing specific ways in which he has raised awareness of human trafficking, especially of the suffering of the trafficked. Pope Francis was also thanked for the tremendous support given to those working to eliminate human trafficking and who support and work with survivors.
In his response Pope Francis began by reminding us that our Assembly was taking place during the Jubilee Year of Mercy, and that he believes that the most troubling endemic fact, leaving an open wound in our society, is the trade in modern forms of slavery. He was thankful to all of the members for doing this challenging work against this phenomenon. Members of the group presented Pope Francis with a St. Brigid’s Cross. This was accompanied by a scroll explaining how the different reeds woven into the cross reflect the 27 European countries in the RENATE network, who work together to eradicate human trafficking. The Pope received also the gifts of the Albanian Women, supported by MWL women project, with joy and gave them his blessings. The media was very active and was all attentive in catching up with the proceedings of the assembly. This work and sharing concluded with achieving a mandate for the next five years for RENATE which will be developed into a draft Strategic plan by the Core Group of RENATE, in January 2017. cf. www.renate-europe.net