To fully address the “evil of horrifying magnitude” caused by human trafficking and gender-based violence, Most Rev. Oscar Cantú, bishop of the Diocese of Las Cruces, N.M., said development and community workers need to address the root causes of vulnerabilities in their communities.
“For development to be successful, it’s crucial to address the totality of issues facing the region — including corruption, impunity, violence, and poverty — with a comprehensive response,” he said. “In the long term the only way to address the crisis at hand and to protect human dignity is to provide opportunities and human security for young people and families by investing in their communities.”
Bishop Cantu was one of the key speakers during a recent workshop on gender-based violence and human trafficking held Nov. 16 and 17 at The Catholic University of America.
The workshop, which was co-hosted by the University’s Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies (IPR) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was intended to train faith-based and community workers from Central America on the the need to get and keep faith-based organizations actively involved in the fight against human trafficking and sex-based violence in Central America’s Northern Triangle region — El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.
During his remarks, Bishop Cantu explained how his role as chairperson of the Committee of International Justice and Peace for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has helped him to understand how the Church can act as “a bridge builder and a peacemaker as well as a defender of the lives and dignity of the most vulnerable.”
Also speaking at the workshop were representatives from USAID, the U.S. Department of State, the USCCB, and faith-based development agencies. Robert Destro, director of IPR, said the event was a valuable opportunity for those working in the field of trafficking and gender-based violence to share their experiences and build connections.
“Our mission at Catholic University is to be of service to the Church, the nation, and the world,” he said. “A University serves its community by helping young people and professionals think through the best ways to understand the dimensions of a problem, and then to develop practical approaches for policy-makers and practitioners.”