The Archbishop of Westminster has been awarded the Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award for his role as president of the Santa Marta Group, which is focused on eradicating modern slavery and human trafficking.
The award honours high achievers in public service and is presented by the Prague Society. Past winners have included the conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy, the former US secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, and the Dalai Lama.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme, said: “At the heart of the effort of the Santa Marta Group is the quest to build trust particularly between forces of law and order and the great resources of the Catholic Church.”
He said that trust is built upon honesty. “At our last meeting there was a very remarkable moment when Cardinal Bo from Myanmar spoke of the terrible human trafficking from Myanmar into China. He said ‘I have very little good news for you and I am very sorry.’ And the bishop who was supervising that session said to him: ‘Cardinal, we’d rather have bad news that’s true than good news that’s false.’ So there’s a growing level of openness and trust between these major operatives in this area.”
Cardinal Nichols highlighted projects the Santa Marta Group has launched, including GrowEdo, an agricultural development project for young people in Nigeria’s Edo State, in which the Dioceses of Benin and Uromi are working in collaboration with the group.