Vatican declares slavery as theme for 2015 World Day of Peace

(Photo: REUTERS / Alessandro Bianchi)Pope Francis waves as he leads his Wednesday general audience at the Paul VI hall at the Vatican August 20, 2014.

Pope Francis has selected the theme, "Slaves no more, but brothers and sisters" for the 48th World Day of Peace to be celebrated on January 1, 2015.

This will be the second time that the Pope will celebrate the Day of Peace since he became the ponitff, Vatican Radio reports.

Francis chose the theme "slavery" from a set of three proposed by the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

He then added the reference "fraternity" to the title as a continuation of his message last year.

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The 2103 message was dedicated to brotherhood and had the theme, "Fraternity, the Foundation and Pathway to Peace."

The council declared that the theme is still relevant today although many think that slavery is a thing of the past.

Traditionally, people are treated as personal property of the owner and are bought and sold as if they are commodities.

Today, slavery is evident through human trafficking, trade in migrants and prostitutes, exploitation, slave labor, and enslavement of women and children, the Vatican council said.

According to the council, "Slavery is a terrible open wound on the contemporary social body, a fatal running sore on the flesh of Christ!"

The note reads that "shamefully, individuals and groups around the world profit from this slavery.

"They take advantage of the world's many conflicts, of the economic crisis and of corruption in order to carry out their evil."

To counter slavery, the council stressed that people should accept that every person has dignity and this dignity must be recognized by all.

This must be "anchored solidly to fraternity which rejects any inequality" among individuals.

With next year's theme, the aim is to build a civilization recognizing the equal dignity of all regardless of race, color, or nationality.

This recognition is achievable only with the renewed commitment of different sectors of society as they pledge to freedom, justice, and peace.

The Pope's full message for World Peace Day is traditionally released by the Vatican in mid-December and is sent, through Vatican diplomats, to Foreign Ministers around the world.

The World Day of Peace is observed annually every first day of January and was initiated by Pope Paul VI.

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