Organized crime challenges fighting 'slavery' of drug addiction, says Pope Francis

(Photo: REUTERS / Giampiero Sposito)Pilgrims gather to attend a mass celebrated by Pope Francis in Sibari, southern Italy, June 21, 2014. While in the region the Pope condemned actions of mobsters saying members of the mafia are excluded from the Catholic Church.

Drug addiction is a form of modern day slavery and drugs are venom that corrupt and kill, Pope Francis has deplored, addressing a theme on which has often spoken out, while saying dignity reinforcing rehabilitation is needed for addicts.

"Drugs are a wound in our society. A wound that traps many people in the networks. They are victims have lost their freedom to fall into slavery; slavery of a dependency we can call 'chemistry,'" the Pope said Nov. 24.

Francis spoke to participants in a Nov. 23-24 workshop organized by the Pontifical Academy for the Sciences titled "Workshop on Narcotics: Problems and Solutions of this Global Issue."

He said drug addiction is without doubt a "new form of slavery, like many others that plague man today and society in general" it is a "wound in our society" calling for education and rehabilitation to combat it.

The gathering centered on the history of drug use globally and it looked at the impact of the drug trade, prevention methods including education, and the risks of medicinal and recreational drug use.

The Pope reflected on the causes of drug addiction, observing that a variety of factors cause it such as, "the absence of a family, social pressure, propaganda from traffickers and the desire to live new experiences."


Francis has frequently spoken out against the drug trade as a primary cause of greed and corruption contributing to the disintegration of society, Catholic News Agency reports.

Every drug addict has "a different personal history which must be heard, understood, loved and, as soon as possible, healed and purified," the Pope said while urging those present not to commit "the injustice of classifying the drug addict as if they were an object or a broken mess."

"The dignity of the person is what we have come to encounter," he said, noting that the high numbers of addicts isn't surprising given the wide range of opportunities available to achieve a superficial happiness.

Pope Francis said that knowing the full scope of the drug problem, "which is essentially destructive," is critical above all in terms of the vast production of drugs and the system of distribution.

Drug cartels "enable the death of a person," he said, noting that it is not necessarily physical death, but "psychological death, social death" in the "discarding of a person."

Ever more than production, distribution systems are "an important part of organized crime," the pontiff said, noting that how to find a way to monitor the different circuits of money laundering and corruption, because "they are united" is a major challenge.

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