The Roman Catholic Church, Church of England and al-Azhar, the Cairo-based seat of Sunni Muslim learning, came together on Monday for a rare demonstration of inter-faith feat among them in calling for an end to modern slavery within 20 years.
Their joint declaration setting up the “Global Freedom Network” they announced that “physical, economic and sexual exploitation of men, women and children” trapped 30 million people globally in slavery.
As well as launch a world day of prayer for sufferers of slavery, the faiths agreed to “slavery-proof their supply chains and investments and to take remedial action if necessary” and press, state commands and companies to do the same.
Relations between the Vatican and the Church of England are jovial; even though they differ over few issues, while Rome’s ties to al-Azhar are soften after three years of icy disconnection.
Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, who signed the document for the Vatican, said Pope Francis had described human trafficking and modern-day slavery, raging from forced sex work to indentured agricultural labor, as a “crime against humanity”.
He said the rare example of cooperation between the Catholic and Anglican communities and al-Azhar in Cairo could help build strong ties among the faiths.
“I think it’s the first time we have worked together like this,” Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo told journalists at the signing ceremony, adding that inter-faith relations need essential careful study and treatment.