On December 2, 2014 at the Vatican in Rome, Chancellor Mata Amritanandamayi joined Pope Francis and ten other world religious leaders in a ceremony to sign a declaration against human trafficking and slavery. Chancellor Amma was at the Vatican for the ceremony by the personal invitation of Pope Francis and met with him privately. A small group of professors and administrators from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham were invited to attend the private function. Present were: Dr. Bipin Nair, Dean of Department of Biotechnology; Dr. Prem Nair, Medical Director, AIMS; Dr. Shanti Nair, Dean of Research and head of Department of Nanotechnology; Bhavani Rao, Director of Ammachi Labs and Karen Sneha Moawad, International. Also in attendance were Swami Amritaswaroopananda Puri and Dr. Priya Nair, AIMS.
The other faith leaders who signed the document were: Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Head of the Anglican Church, Buddhist: Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) (represented by Venerable Bhikkhuni Thich Nu Chan Khong); Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar (represented by Dr. Abbas Abdalla Abbas Soliman, Undersecretary of State of Al Azhar Alsharif); Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi al-Modarresi; Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Basheer Hussain al Najafi (represented by Sheikh Naziyah Razzaq Jaafar, Special advisor of Grand Ayatollah); Muslim: Sheikh Omar Abboud; Malaysian Buddhist Monk: Ven. Datuk Kirinde Dhammaratana Nayak Maha Thero, and Chief Rabbi David Rosen, KSG, CBE, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (represented by His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France), Rabbi Skorka, the coordinator of the Jewish community in South America.
The signing of the Faith Leaders’ Universal Declaration against Slavery is a historic initiative, with the aim to work together to end a global tragedy by 2020. The signatories represented combined congregations of followers and supporters of over half the world’s population.
The following is an excerpt from Chancellor Amma’s speech:
“We are honoured and thankful that His Holiness Pope Francis has gathered us here today under the auspices of the Global Freedom Network. I am optimistic that all global faiths are uniting together to inspire both spiritual and practical actions towards society ending the horror of slavery and human trafficking.
“People from all nations and religions become victims to the ravaging effects of human enslavement and experience extreme abuse and suffering. Their physical and mental pain does not differentiate between language, race or skin colour. These victims are just a single group of humans, struggling against the clutches of endless sorrow and emotional suppression.
“The human mind has created many divisions in the name of religion, caste, language and national boundaries. Let us try to create a bridge of all-encompassing pure love to break down these self-created walls.”
Pope Francis commented, “Inspired by our faiths, we have gathered together today because of one historical initiative and one concrete action: to declare that we will work together to eradicate the terrible scourge of modern slavery in all its forms. The physical, economical, sexual and physiological exploitation of men, women, boys and girls is currently linking millions of people to dehumanization and humiliation. Every human being —man, woman, boy and girl— is an image of God. God is Love and freedom that is given freely in interpersonal relationships; therefore, every human being is a free individual, whose life is for the good of others, living in equality and fraternity.”
Read Chancellor Amma’s full speech at: Amma signs Faith Leaders’ Universal Declaration Against Slavery at Vatican
In the news: Mata Amritanandamayi meets Pope Francis in Vatican