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SPECIAL: Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road

6/20/2007 - 5:55 AM PST

(Page 14 of 18)

also consider the Church's clear condemnation of their sins and the injustice they commit. This is also valid for homosexual and transsexual trade.

104. Bishops' Conferences, and the corresponding Structures in Oriental Catholic Churches, in countries where prostitution is widespread, as a result of people trafficking, should condemn this social evil. It is also necessary to promote respect, understanding, compassion and an attitude of abastaining from judging -- in the right sense -- women who have fallen into the network of prostitution.

Bishops, priests and pastoral agents should be encouraged to tackle this slavery from a pastoral point of view, in ecclesial ministry. Religious congregations should also seek to focus on the power of their institutions and join forces to inform, educate and act.

105. All pastoral initiatives should concentrate on the Christian values of mutual respect and healthy family and community relations, as well as on the need for balance and harmony in interpersonal relations between men and women.

The various projects aimed at assisting the repatriation and social reintegration of women who are prisoners of prostitution are also in urgent need of adequate financial support. Meetings should take place of religious associations that operate in various parts of the world for the purposes of such assistance and liberation.

With regards to "clients", it is vital for the clergy to get involved in and give support to both the formation of young people -- especially men -- and the complex action of human rapport, formation and spiritual guidance.

106. Full cooperation should take place between public and private organisations to bring about the elimination of sexual exploitation.

Collaboration is also needed with social communication media in order to ensure correct information on this extremely serious problem. The Church would like to see the presentation and application of laws that protect women from the evil of prostitution and people trafficking, and it is also important that it does its utmost to achieve effective measures against humiliating portrayals of women in advertising.

Finally, Christian communities should be encouraged to collaborate with national and local authorities to help street women find alternative means of making a living.

III. Rehabilitation of women and "customers"

107. From pastoral relations with victims, it is evident that "treating" them is a long and difficult process. Street women need to be helped to find accommodation, and a family and community atmosphere in which they feel accepted and loved, and where they may start to rebuild their lives and futures. This enables them to regain respect and self-esteem, the joy of being alive and to start a new life without feeling they are being pointed at.

The liberation and social reintegration of street women require acceptance and understanding from the community, whilst the road to recovery of these women is smoothed by genuine love and the offer of various opportunities aimed at satisfying their need for security, achievement and a better life. The treasure of faith (cf. Matthew 6:21), if it is still alive within them despite everything, or its rediscovery, will help them enormously, as it has the power of the goodness and certainty of the love of God, who is merciful and great in love.

108. Potential "customers", on the other hand, need enlightenment regarding the respect and dignity of women, interpersonal values and the whole sphere of relationships and sexuality. In a society in which money and "wellbeing" are ideals, adequate relations and sexual education are necessary for the comprehensive formation of people. This type of education should illustrate the true nature of interpersonal relations based not on selfish interest and exploitation, but rather on the dignity of the person, which should be respected and appreciated, above all as the image of God (cf. Genesis 1:27). In this context, believers should bear in mind that sin is an offence against the Lord, to be avoided with all one's might, entrusting oneself with confidence to the action of Divine Grace.

Education and research

109. It is important to study the problem of prostitution with a Christian vision of life. This is to be done with groups of youngsters in schools, parishes and families with a view to developing correct judgements regarding human and Christian relations, respect, dignity, human rights and sexuality.

Formators and educators should take account of the cultural context in which they operate, but should not let an inappropriate sense of embarrassment prevent them from engaging in appropriate dialogue on these issues, in order to raise awareness and instil due concern regarding the abuse of sexuality.

110. The cause of violence in families and its ...

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