Pope leads prayers for victims of 'perverse plague' of trafficking

IMAGE: CNS photo/Marcel van Dorst – MaRicMedia, EPA

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Human trafficking is “brutal,
savage and criminal,” Pope Francis said, but often it seems like people
see it as a sad, but normal fact of life.

“I want to call everyone to make a commitment to seeing
that this perverse plague, a modern form of slavery, is effectively
countered,” the pope said July
30, the U.N.’s World
Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

After reciting the Angelus with thousands of people gathered
in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis asked them to join him in praying a
“Hail Mary” so that Jesus’ mother would “support the victims of
trafficking and convert the hearts of traffickers.”

In his main Angelus address, Pope Francis focused on the
parables from the day’s Gospel reading: the treasure hidden in the field and
the pearl of great price.

Both parables involve “searching and sacrifice,”
the pope said. Neither the person who found the treasure in the field nor the
merchant who found the pearl would have made their discoveries if they were not
looking for something, and both of them sell all they have to purchase
their treasure.

The point of the parables, he said, is that “the
kingdom of God is offered to all — it is a gift, a grace — but it is not
given on a silver platter. It requires dynamism; it involves seeking, walking,
getting busy.”

Jesus is the hidden treasure, the pope said, and once people
discover him they are called to put following him before all else.

“It’s not a matter of despising all else, but of
subordinating it to Jesus, giving him first place,” the pope said. “A
disciple of Christ is not one who is deprived of something essential, but one
who has found much more, has found the full joy that only the Lord can

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