Mere Anglicanism

Church anti-slavery coalition close to collapse

The Archbishop of Canterbury is reviewing his relationship with the Global Freedom Network in light of the recent decision by the Vatican to withdraw its representatives from the anti-slavery movement.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is reviewing his relationship with the Global Freedom Network in light of the recent decision by the Vatican to withdraw its representatives from the anti-slavery movement.

A spokesman told Anglican Ink on 3 August 2015 Archbishop Justin Welby had “noted the withdrawal of the Vatican representatives on the GFN” and was presently “engaged with the founding GFN parties to determine the best way forward operationally now, given that the inaugural year of GFN is over and a universal declaration against slavery and trafficking has been signed by leaders from the world’s main faiths.”

In March 2014 Archbishop Welby said the Global Freedom Network was “being created to join the struggle against modern slavery and human trafficking from a faith base, so that we might witness to God’s compassion and act for the benefit of those who are abducted, enslaved and abused in this terrible crime.”Representatives of the Vatican, the Al Azar in Cairo and the Anglican Communion joined with the Walk Free Foundation — a charity created by Australian businessman Andrew Forrest — to form the network. Pope Francis, Archbishop Welby, Metropolitan Emmanuel of France representing the Ecumenical Patriarch, and representatives of Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Sunni and Shia Islam signed a concordat on 2 Dec 2014 pledging to work with the GFN to fight human trafficking at a ceremony held in Rome.

However, the GFN may be close to collapse. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported last month the Vatican’s representative to the GFN had withdrawn from the charity’s executive board. On 29 July 2015 Archbishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences and the Catholic Church’s representative to the GFN stated: “the Holy See does not want to be instrumentalized. A businessman has every right to make revenues, but not by exploiting the Pope.”

Archbishop Sánchez declined to elaborate, but his aides noted he had withdrawn from the board earlier this year. The ABC reported questions had been raised about the effectiveness of the GFN in combatting human trafficking, coupled with a sharp decline in the value of its endowment — primarily stock in Mr. Forrest’s mining corporation.

The Catholic News Agency on 30 July 2015 cited an unnamed Vatican source as saying: “it is likely that Forrest had used the name of the Pope to convince donors to replace what was lost and to invest in his initiatives.”

A spokesman for Lambeth Palace said the Archbishop of Canterbury “remains very committed to the need for a global effort against trafficking and modern slavery. Led by the Bishop of Derby in Parliament, who worked on the Committee leading the British Government’s pioneering Modern Slavery Act 2015, and with the Anglican Alliance around the world, the Archbishop will continue to strongly support all work against modern slavery.”

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