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Church is afraid to speak out about organ trafficking, says Mozambique nun

02 November 2016 | by Catholic News Service , Megan Cornwell

The Catholic Church is part of the Santa Marta Group which aims to eradicate all forms of modern-day slavery

Mozambique is plagued by trafficking in human organs and witchcraft is to blame, said a religious sister working in the country.

Scalabrinian Sister Marines Biasibetti, Secretary General of the Commission for Migrants, Refugees and Displaced Persons at the Mozambique bishops' conference, spoke to Catholic News Service after the Santa Marta Group conference at the Vatican last week.

The meeting, attended by Pope Francis, looked at ways to eradicate human trafficking and modern day slavery. Home Secretary Amber Rudd pledged £14 million of UK funds towards the effort.

"This problem has always existed but now it is being discussed, especially regarding the trafficking of organs because it is related to magic and cultural beliefs”, the Brazil-born Sister said. “People are very afraid to speak on the issue: both victims and the general public.”

"Even in the Church, religious men and women, priests and local bishops do not speak about it out of fear of what may happen to them," Sister Biasibetti told Catholic News Service.  She added that these fears are beginning to abate as the Church works to bring the issue into the light.

But Sister Biasibetti, who has worked in Mozambique for more than two years, says the worsening socio-political situation in the country is driving people toward healers who practice witchcraft; they believe the healers not only can restore people to health, but they can help people get basic necessities or even "riches and easy money".

"The sorcerer performs his rituals and tells them that in order to have better living conditions or to obtain what he or she is asking for, he will ask him or her to bring a person's head, hand or tongue. And if people believe this, they will go kill someone and that's the end of it," she said.

FEATURED: CARDINAL VINCENT NICHOLS WRITES IN THIS WEEK'S TABLET ABOUT THE RECENT SANTA MARTA GROUP GATHERING

The unfortunate victims of these attacks, she added, are often migrants coming in from South Africa who are vulnerable and regarded as a "disfavoured class".

Those involved in sorcery and witchcraft are also very well organised and leave little evidence for investigators to follow, she said. The nun added that she believed a large majority of the organs trafficked in the country were linked to black magic.

While local and government authorities have been hesitant or shown little interest in tackling the problem, Sister Biasibetti said her office is trying to educate people and prevent organ trafficking.

The trafficking and commercialisation of organs and body parts "is a sad, unfortunate phenomenon that continues to grow in Mozambique," she said, but cooperation between religious and local authorities can help save lives and souls.

"We will promote human rights and, above all, the value of life through our witness and evangelisation in order to be a sign of solidarity and love," Sister Biasibetti said.



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