Pope slams sex tourism, organ trafficking

2012-04-23 18:26
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Pope Benedict XVI turns 85

Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate his 85th birthday with a number of visitors, including his older brother and the premier of his native German state of Bavaria.

Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI called on the international community to tackle sex tourism and organ trafficking on Monday, slamming the abuse, torture and exploitation of minors in particular.

Tourism can facilitate people trafficking "for sexual exploitation or organ harvesting, as well as the exploitation of minors", the pope said in a speech to mark the 2012 World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism.

These are "evils that must be dealt with urgently since they trample upon the rights of millions of men and women, especially among the poor, minors and handicapped", the pope said.

Affecting millions

The United Nations estimates there are around 2.5 million victims of human trafficking in the world at any one time.

The pope - who has faced thousands of clerical sex abuse scandals in Europe and the US since becoming pontiff - condemned "the exploitation of minors, abandoned into the hands of individuals without scruples".

"Sexual tourism is one of the most abject of these deviations that devastate morally, psychologically and physically the life of so many persons and families, and sometimes whole communities," he said.

Benedict urged "those who are engaged for pastoral reasons or who work in the field of tourism, and the whole international community, to increase their vigilance and to foresee and oppose such aberrations".

The Catholic Church has launched initiatives to tackle sexual abuse by priests following decades of cover-ups, including a summit on clerical child abuse and an internet-based Centre for Child Protection opened this year.

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