Human Trafficking

Bishops' Statements/Teachings

The Catholic Church has condemned human trafficking and has developed social service programs to serve and protect its survivors.

During Vatican II, the Catholic Church reaffirmed its historic concern about forced labor, stating that “slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children, [and] disgraceful working conditions where [people] are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons” are “infamies” and “an affront to fundamental values. . . values rooted in the very nature of the human person.”

In the 2006 annual statement on migration, entitled “Migrations: A Sign of the Times,” Pope Benedict XVI deplored the “trafficking of human beings—especially women—which flourishes where opportunities to improve their standard of living or even to survive are limited.”

Pope John Paul II, in a letter on the occasion of the International Conference on “Twenty-First-Century Slavery—the Human Rights Dimension to Trafficking in Human Beings,” stated that human trafficking “constitutes a shocking offense against human dignity and a grave violation of fundamental human rights. In particular, the sexual exploitation of women and children is a particularly repugnant aspect of this trade, and must be recognized as an intrinsic violation of human dignity and human rights.”

The Catholic bishops of the United States and Mexico have also spoken out on the issue, calling upon the governments of the United States and Mexico to work together to apprehend traffickers and destroy trafficking networks: “Both governments must vigilantly seek to end trafficking in human persons. . . . Together, both governments should more effectively share information on trafficking operations and should engage in joint action to apprehend and prosecute traffickers.

Adapted from On Human Trafficking, a resource developed by the Committee on Migration of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Pope Francis wrote in his Apostolic Exhortation entitled The Joy of the Gospel:

I have always been distressed at the lot of those who are victims of various kinds of human trafficking. How I wish that all of us would hear God’s cry: “Where is your brother?” (Gen 4:9). Where is your brother or sister who is enslaved? Where is the brother and sister whom you are killing each day in clandestine warehouses, in rings of prostitution, in children used for begging, in exploiting undocumented labour? Let us not look the other way. There is greater complicity than we think. The issue involves everyone! This infamous network of crime is now well established in our cities, and many people have blood on their hands as a result of their comfortable and silent complicity. #221

The Amistad Movement is a human trafficking education and awareness campaign for immigrant communities. It is an initiative of the Anti-Trafficking Program of the Migration and Refugee Services Department of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Ohio Human Trafficking Awareness Day 2015

January 15, 2015
Columbus Statehouse Atrium
Free and Open to the Public
Optional Lunch $10.00

RSVP by January 9, 2015

Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises worldwide. Each year an estimated 1,078 Ohio children become victims and 3,016 more are at-risk.

The Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force marshals the state’s resources to provide wraparound services for victims and punish the perpetrators of this horrible crime.

Ohio Legislation

June 3, 2014: Am Sub HB 130 Passes

HB 130 adds further protections for victims of human trafficking

Specifically, the End Demand Act:

  • Increases penalties for purchasing sex from a minor, from a misdemeanor to a felony – requiring offenders to register as tier two sex offenders

  • Makes it easier to prosecute traffickers of minor victims by removing the need to prove victims under 16 were compelled to engage in sex for hire; and by adding trafficking induced using ‘fraud’ to the state definition of trafficking for all victims

  • Prohibits the advertisement of massage with the promise of sexual activity, restricts the use of ‘massage’ and related terms in advertising

  • Terminates parental rights for those found trafficking their children

  • Prohibits the advertisement of sexual activity for hire if the materials depict a minor

  • Protects the names of minor victims of trafficking from being published, even if the minors have criminal charges

  • Allows two-way video teleconferencing testimony during preliminary examination hearings for minors under the age of 16

  • Lastly, because the bill contains an emergency clause, it will become effective immediately upon signing by the Governor.

Catholic Conference of Ohio Senate testimony

June 27, 2012: Governor signs Human Trafficking legislation Sub HB 262

Catholic Conference of Ohio testimony

3/29/12. Governor Kasich establishes a Human Trafficking Task Force [MORE]

On December 8, 2010 SB 235 unanimously passed the Ohio General Assembly. SB 235 establishes Human Trafficking as a specific criminal offense in Ohio.     


On Human Trafficking Brochure: Committee on Migration USCCB

Respect Life Brochure on Sex Trafficking, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 10/2010

Bulletin Insert on Human Trafficking, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 10/2010

Polaris Project is a leading organization in the global fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Named after the North Star "Polaris" that guided slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad, Polaris Project is transforming the way that individuals and communities respond to human trafficking, in the U.S. and globally.

By successfully pushing for stronger federal and state laws, operating the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline (1-888-373-7888), conducting trainings, and providing vital services to victims of trafficking, Polaris Project creates long-term solutions that move our society closer to a world without slavery.

Fact Sheet on Human Trafficking (2010 statistics)

USCCB's Migration and Refugee Services denied funding for programs related to human trafficking. This was based solely on our program's unwillingness to pay for abortion or contraception, or make referrals for certain reproductive health services.

Ohio Report Card on Human Trafficking 2013

Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force Report: 2012

U.S. State Department's Human Trafficking Office

Catholic Relief Services Blog Entry: Human Trafficking has Global Reach. Ken Hackett. CRS President

Catholic Conference of Ohio Testimony in support of SB 235 regarding Human Trafficking.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Human Trafficking Resources

Need More Information

Contact Jim Tobin , 614-224-7147

Catholic Conference of Ohio