June 7 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Archdiocese to consider using church property as safe houses for trafficking victims

St Andrews & Edinburgh Archdiocese is to consider using empty Church property as safe houses for victims of human trafficking.

The comments from Fr Basil Clark, vicar episcopal for Caritas, Justice & Peace, come as Archbishop Leo Cushely hit out at the ‘significant number’ of human trafficking victims in Scotland.

The archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh said during his homily at the St Margaret pilgrimage that the problem has now ‘taken root’ in the country and called for better action to tackle it.

“We flatter ourselves that it exists in murky, far-away places, or in Netflix box sets about the ancient world,” He said.

“But there is a significant number of people in our country—from Africa, Asia and Europe—who are trapped in debt, and exploited by the unscrupulous.

“We should be under no illusion as to this reality, which has quietly taken root in our country.”


St Margaret

The archbishop compared the work of St Margaret, herself a refugee, to the actions Catholics must take to help those suffering from modern slavery.

He highlighted how the saint personally raised funds to free prisoners of war, allowing them to return home.

He said: “This is a phenomenon that St Margaret would have condemned and worked to change. She did so in her own lifetime.

“So we would do well to imitate her by informing ourselves about this problem and exploring what needs to be done to address it.”


Raising awareness

Church Justice and Peace groups across St Andrews & Edinburgh Archdiocese are being asked to help raise awareness of the problem.

Fr Basil Clark, vicar episcopal for Caritas, Justice & Peace, has been tasked with finding ways to help those trapped through trafficking.

He said: “When you encounter it in a personal way, it really hits home. I had a young man from Vietnam who was brought by social workers to Mass.

“He had apparently escaped from a cannabis farm in East Lothian and ended up in Musselburgh Police Station.”

He added: “We have empty church property—could they be used as safe houses? We need to go from raising such questions to actually doing something to raise money and making things happen to tackle the problem.”

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