(Source: Vatican News)

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Argentina recently held an online seminar to mark the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

In a message sent by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis described modern-day slavery as “a scourge that wounds the dignity of our weakest brothers and sisters.”

The Pope said our contemporary world is “sadly marked by a utilitarian perspective that views others according to the criteria of convenience and personal gain.”

This selfish point-of-view, he added, keeps others from experiencing the fullness of their unique and unrepeatable humanity.

Eradication of scourge

Given the dramatic situation of people being used for commercial gain, Pope Francis encouraged everyone in their “commitment to the total eradication of this scourge.”

He also expressed his support for “efforts to assist survivors and collaborate decisively in building paths that lead to the common good and the full realization of human life.”

The Pope concluded his message by blessing the seminar’s participants, and invoked the protection of Our Lady of Luján.

Increased vulnerability

The seminar was held July 30 on the Zoom video conferencing platform under the title “Together Against Trafficking in Human Beings.”

The 600-odd participants represented various sectors working to fight the scourge of modern-day slavery. These included Church representatives, politicians, humanitarian workers, and officials from Argentina’s judiciary.

Event organizers expressed satisfaction that the Covid-19 pandemic did not force a cancellation of the seminar.

“The need to raise public awareness on this issue has grown,” they said, “since the current circumstances have created greater potential for vulnerability and favored an uptick in the exploitation of people.”

Francis replaces private secretary in “normal turnover of roles”

In the meantime, Pope Francis has asked Father Fabio Salerno to become one of his personal secretaries. He is currently working in the Section for Relations with States in the Vatican Secretariat of State. 

In addition, Msgr. Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, who became Pope Francis’ personal secretary in April 2014, “is concluding his service.”

Responding to questions from journalists, Matteo Bruni, Director of the Holy See Press Office, confirmed the news on Saturday. He explained that as is the case in other curial roles, so too in this case, “a normal turnover of roles,” as desired by Pope Francis, is taking place. 

Bruni also said Msgr Gaid “will continue his current role as a Member of the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity”. The Committee promotes the implementation of the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together”, signed in February 2019 by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayyeb.

Father Salerno biography

Father Fabio Salerno will step into the position left vacant by Msgr Gaid.

He was born in 1979 in Catanzaro in Italy, and was ordained a priest in 2011 for the Archdiocese of Catanzaro-Squillace. He holds a doctorate from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.

After going through the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, he served as secretary in the Apostolic Nunciature in Indonesia and at the Holy See’s Permanent Mission to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

Father Gonzalo Aemilius, who began service as one of Pope Francis’s secretaries in January substituting Msgr Fabián Pedacchio Leániz, will introduce Father Salerno to his new role.

More on Novena on the scourge of human trafficking:

Pope pleads: “Much remains to be done” to end human trafficking, “an open wound on the body of society”

Caritas urges governments not to ignore “worrying” turn for worse in “ongoing pandemic” of human trafficking

Holy See “indignant” over discrepancy between 25 million victims of human trafficking and 12,000 prosecuted worldwide for crime

Holy See clamours in Human Rights Council: “Trafficking in persons should have no place in the human family”


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.