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 CNS Story:

POPE-CHILDREN Jun-12-2013 (290 words) xxxi

Pope decries 'real slavery' of children forced to work

(CNS/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Many of the hundreds of millions of child laborers around the world work under conditions of "real slavery," Pope Francis said.

Marking the World Day Against Child Labor June 12, the pope told people at his weekly general audience that he hoped the international community could find more effective means to stop the exploitation of boys and girls in jobs that are often dangerous and in situations where they are subjected to all kinds of abuse.

"These people, instead of letting them play, make them slaves," the pope said at the end of his weekly general audience. "This is a plague."

At an audience where, as usual, he kissed dozens of babies and young children, accepted drawings from several and flipped through the sketchbook of one, the pope said, "All children have a right to play, study, pray and grow within their own families in an atmosphere of harmony, love and serenity. It is their right and our obligation."

For 2013, the International Labor Organization, which sponsors the World Day Against Child Labor, focused on the estimated 10.5 million children who do domestic work -- cleaning, ironing, cooking, collecting water, looking after other children or caring for the elderly -- in other people's homes.

"Vulnerable to physical, psychological and sexual violence and abusive working conditions, they are often isolated from their families, hidden from the public eye and become highly dependent on their employers. Many might end up being commercially sexually exploited," the labor organization said.

Pope Francis said it is a "deplorable phenomenon that is constantly growing, especially in poor countries. Millions of children, mostly girls, are the victims of this hidden form of exploitation."

"Woe to those who suffocate their joyful enthusiasm of hope," the pope said.


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