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Pope Francis has led a group of the world’s religious leaders in signing a declaration calling for the complete elimination of slavery.

In a December 2 ceremony at the Vatican, the Pontiff was joined by representatives of the Orthodox, Anglican, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu faiths in signing the statement.

“Inspired by our confessions of faith, we are gathered here today for an historical initiative and to take concrete action: to declare that we will work together to eradicate the terrible scourge of modern slavery in all its forms,” said the Pope, as he addressed the religious leaders. He observed that all of the major religions agree that “modern slavery– in terms of human trafficking, forced labor and prostitution, and organ trafficking– is a crime against humanity.”

Slavery, the Pontiff continued, “continues to be an atrocious scourge present on a large scale throughout the world.” Often it is hidden, he said, but the problem is growing.

The religious leaders who joined in signing the document, calling for the complete eradication of slavery by the year 2020, included Metropolitan Emmanuel of France (representing the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I); Dr. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury; Abbas Abdalla Abbas Soliman of Al Azhar university; and Rabbis Abraham Skorka and David Rosen.