What do a minister, a rabbi and a nun have in common? In the case of myself, Reverend David Schilling of the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility and Sister Estrella Castalone of Talitha Kum, it is the fierce desire to see an end to modern slavery. David’s organization harnesses the power of socially responsible investing and shareholder resolutions to demand that corporations eliminate slavery from their supply chains. Sister Estrella heads an international coalition of orders of religious women who fight trafficking and bring comfort and support to its survivors. And Rabbis for Human Rights-North America is the moral conscience of the American Jewish community, mobilizing our members to speak out against this largely invisible human rights atrocity.
Last week, thanks to the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See and St. Thomas University, we spoke together in Rome to ask how faith communities, government, non-profits and the business sector can work together to end slavery. “Building Bridges of Freedom: Public-Private Partnerships to End Modern Slavery” brought together leaders from all these constituencies to share knowledge, promote best practices, and to stratigize about coalitions to fight human trafficking and modern slavery. We were challenged: How can faith communities do more than just provide services to victims? What corporations are leaders for transparency in supply chains and what legislation is needed to ensure that others follow? How do we engage the human rights community at large to focus more on the problem of slavery? How can we work together to be most effective in a time when resources are stretched?