GFNwebWhen Archbishop Justin visited Pope Francis in June 2013, Archbishop Justin raised the challenge of human trafficking as an issue for the churches and for him personally. The Pope agreed, having initiated this challenge within the Roman Catholic Church some months before. After much negotiation over the months since then a “Global Freedom Network” to help eradicate modern slavery from a faith base has been established, co -signed on March 17th, by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s representative to the Holy See, Archbishop Sir David Moxon; the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Science, Bishop Sanchez Sorondo; and the CEO of the large international philanthropic anti -slavery NGO from Perth Western Australia “Walk Free”, Mr Andrew Forrest. “Walk Free” have made this network financially possible by giving an initial 2 million euro . There will be fund-raising over the next period to raise another four million for a five year programme to eradicate modern slavery from a faith base.
 
Walk Free Foundation and Muslim scholars in Alexandria, Egypt on behalf of and with the leadership of the Al Azhar, have also been in detailed discussions. On December 2013 a Fatwa was issued by the Al Azhar Al Sharif, Preaching and Opinion committee in Alexandria, unilaterally declaring against modern slavery and human trafficking, from a Muslim perspective based on the teachings of the Quran. It is expected that other world faiths will take this approach as well, and hopefully join the Global Freedom Network.
 
Stakeholders, at all levels, have a moral and legal duty to eradicate this crime against humanity and strive to ensure that all human beings co-exist in freedom, equality, harmony and peace in accordance with the values of our shared humanity. With collaborators from all over the world we must expose these hidden crimes by using today’s technology and working through good and just national and international institutions. It is our moral imperative to make ours the last generation that has to fight the trade in human lives.
 
The Global Freedom Network has some of its earliest roots in the visits of Mr Andrew Forrest to the Vatican and to Lambeth Palace, as well as the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Science Conference on November 2013 in Vatican City. The Network comprises a Council of representatives from the faiths involved, including the foundational Anglican and Roman Catholic denominations, as well as Walk Free. There will be a smaller Rome-based Executive Board of Directors of three, presently Bishop Sanchez Sorondo, Archbishop David Moxon and Mr Andrew Forrest, working with a full time researcher and faith based action planner, Ms Antonia Stampalija.
 
The action plans of the GFN will be used to challenge and encourage the different networks of the churches and faiths to act decisively and comprehensively across the world. This action planning will involve the Holy See, the Anglican Alliance, governments and national authorities, civil society organisations, Christians, all religions and all people of good will. There is a five year action plan which will work itself out from April 1st 2014.
 
The Anglican Centre in Rome supports this new network in every way and will integrate its own time and energy into the cause as an example of practical mission-based ecumenism, where Anglicans and Catholics, working in good faith together with many others, will coordinate their efforts to challenge one of the world’s worst evils and greatest forms of suffering. Mission will drive ecumenism in this way. We will find that as we walk together on the pathway of justice, that our talking together will improve, and on this Emmaus journey we will meet the risen Christ who falls in step between us. And this Christ is not divided, so neither will we be. The Emmaus journey led to a deep and abiding communion when Christ was recognised in the midst.

Interview with America: The National Catholic Review