To mark Anti-Slavery Day, a delegation from St Mary’s University, Twickenham (SMU) visited the Holy See on 18th October and greeted Pope Francis at the end of the weekly General Audience, alongside UK Ambassador to the Holy See Chris Trott.
SMU Vice-Chancellor Anthony McClaran and Dr Carole Murphy, Director of SMU’s Bakhita Centre for Research on Slavery, Exploitation and Abuse, attended the General Audience in St Peter’s Square to highlight the work of the university in researching and combatting modern slavery.
At the end of the Audience, SMU presented the Pontiff with artwork created by residents of Caritas Bakhita House, London, a safe house for women who have been trafficked, enslaved, and exploited. The artwork was used as the cover of the book Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking: the Victim Journey, edited by Carole Murphy and Runa Lazzarino, a copy of which was also presented to Pope Francis.
The visit, organised by the British Embassy to the Holy See, included a panel event entitled ‘Education to tackle modern slavery and empower’ on 18 October. Hosted by the British Embassy and Talitha Kum, the anti-trafficking network of women religious, the event featured addresses from women religious working on the ground in Africa and Europe. Dr Carole Murphy delivered the event’s keynote address prior to a panel discussion.
UK Ambassador to the Holy See, Chris Trott, said: “The visit of St Mary’s University is an opportunity to highlight the vital role of education in empowering human trafficking survivors and people with lived experience of modern slavery. It also shows the role of education research centres in informing policy-making and building partnerships.
“Everyone, everywhere should live without fear of violence and exploitation and should be supported to reach their full potential. The UK is committed to ending modern slavery and all forms of human trafficking, including forced labour in supply chains and child labour. I commend the work of Talitha Kum and the Catholic networks, who are a trusted local presence in their communities, giving voice to the most vulnerable.”
St Mary’s Vice-Chancellor Anthony McClaran added: “It is a great honour to represent St Mary’s with Dr Murphy at the General Audience. As a Catholic university, St Mary’s is committed to addressing injustice and inequality through academic research and advocacy, by breaking down the barriers to higher education, and in equipping our young people with the ethical foundation and skills needed to make a positive impact on wider society upon graduation.”
As part of their visit, the delegation also held meetings at the Dicastery for Culture and Education and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.