The Catholic bishops of Mexico encouraged the faithful in the country not to become indifferent to the suffering of human trafficking victims, but to take action to fight corruption and exploitation.

“We cannot accept exploitation, we cannot grow accustomed to the suffering. Let us denounce exploitation! Because as long as human trafficking remains hidden, the traffickers will continue to act with impunity,” the Mexican Bishops’ Conference said in a statement on its website.

The statement, released for World Day Against Human Trafficking on July 31, asked Catholics to pray for those who are suffering exploitation and to boldly “denounce corruption and complicity.”

“Let us pray on this day for those suffering from this exploitation that cries to heaven and let us ask ourselves: 'What can I do? What is up to me to do?' God and the Blessed Virgin Mary will accompany our efforts,” the bishops said.

Trafficking has many forms, the Catholic bishops said, including prostitution, slavery, forced servitude, organ removal, forced marriage, and illegal adoption. They noted that the majority of trafficking victims – some 70% are women and girls, who are mainly trafficked for sexual exploitation.

Human trafficking empowers other human rights violations, they added, contributing to poverty, discrimination and violence.

It is important for people to know the signs of human trafficking, in order to identify and report cases of it, the Mexican bishops said.

While the Mexican state has voiced its commitment to fighting human trafficking through prevention, protection and prosecution, the bishops said a coordinated response is needed, with collaboration among churches, the media, businesses, and other leaders of civil society.

Catholics must not be indifferent to this “open sore” in society, they stressed, but should be aware of the phenomenon “and how it operates in order to be able to intervene.”

The bishops of Mexico thanked movements within the Church that fight human trafficking and aid its victims. They particularly mentioned Talitha Kum, a network led by religious sisters who have served 10,000 trafficking survivors in 77 countries. The sisters accompany victims to shelters and aid them as they return home.