Catholic Conference of Ohio
Thursday, January 18, 2018

Issues - Catholic Conference of Ohio

Human Trafficking


Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery. Victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor. Trafficking in persons inherently rejects the dignity of the human person and exploits conditions of global poverty.

The Catholic Conference of Ohio believes it is important for Ohio to continue strengthening protections for victims of human trafficking. We support legislation that strives to end the demand for human trafficking.  

The Catholic Church will continue to provide pastoral care, education and advocacy regarding human trafficking. We welcome efforts that enhance state, national and international cooperation and enforcement.

Catholic 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


Oh God, we didn't see them.

But you did-

The hundreds and thousands of human beings trafficked each year to join the millions who are trapped in modern-day slavery.

Under terrible conditions, they work in factories, plow fields, harvest crops, work quarries, fill brothels, clean homes, and haul water.

Many are children with tiny fingers for weaving rugs and small shoulders for bearing rifles.

Their labor is forced, their bodies beaten, their faces hidden from those who don't really want to see them.

But you see them all, God of the poor.

You hear their cry and you answer by opening our eyes, and breaking our hearts and loosening our tongues to insist:

No mas. No more.



2016 Human Trafficking Commission: Annual Report

Ohio Attorney General's Office issues new report

By increasing communication between local coalitions and federal and state agencies, the commission will continue to identify the available services for survivors of human trafficking and make the local community response stronger. The next year will bring more opportunities to increase education and outreach across the state. Members will be speaking to new organizations and emphasizing the importance of identification and the collection of tips. Local advocates, service providers, law enforcement, and other professionals will continue to play an essential role in fighting human trafficking. 

Full Report

New Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign Unveiled

Human Trafficking Happens Here Too

The state of Ohio and private advocacy groups are joining in a new human trafficking awareness campaign to run concurrent with this month's Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland, where visitors from across the state and nation will be met with the message "Human Trafficking Happens Here Too." Beginning Friday, July 1 and continuing during and after the RNC, the campaign slogan and sobering faces of children with the captions "Sold for Sex" and "Trapped into Forced Labor" will greet convention participants and other travelers at the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and on Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority buses and billboards citywide.


Resources on Human Trafficking

To report a trafficking tip, call  the National Human Trafficking Hotline Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888, a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.


Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force

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

The SHEPHERD Campaign is a campaign to help Catholics learn more about human trafficking, as well as work with their parish community to address this issue.


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.