, VATICAN CITY, Mar 18 – Catholics, Anglicans and Muslims came together Monday to fight slavery with the launch of a global network to tackle human trafficking, forced prostitution and child labour.
The Global Freedom Network, the brainchild of billionaire Australian magnate Andrew Forrest, will pressure governments and businesses to free millions of men, women and children held in bondage around the world by 2020.
“Today, the economic exploitation of our fellow human beings causes almost 30 million people to be enslaved, more than at any time in human history,” Forrest said at the launch.
The Vatican, the Anglican Communion and Cairo’s Islamic al-Azhar University are leading the initiative, which “brings together faith communities of almost three billion people — nearly half of the world’s population — and will invite all faiths to join its leadership,” he added.
Overcoming strained relations between the Vatican and al-Azhar — which deteriorated during the papacy of pope Benedict XVI — the network brings together Pope Francis, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb.
Representatives of all three met at Vatican to sign up to the initiative, which Forrest said would bring together “millions of churches and mosques to gather in one great army to fight the war against slavery.”