Pope Francis, along with other top religious leaders, pledged this week to end human slavery by 2020.
"The physical, economic, sexual and psychological exploitation of men and women, boys and girls, is chaining tens of millions of persons to inhumanity and humiliation," the pope said and signed the pledge to do "all in our power, within our faith communities and beyond" to end modern slavery by 2020.
The pledge signing took place at a ceremony Tuesday on the U.N. Day for the Abolition of Slavery, the Catholic News Service reported.
Other religious leaders at the ceremony included Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury; Rabbi David Rosen, international director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee; Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi al-Modarresi, an influential Shiite scholar; and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.
According to the Walk Free Foundation, there are nearly 36 million people living as slaves or who have been forced into brothels.
"We pledge ourselves here today to do all in our power, within our faith communities and beyond, to work together for the freedom of all those who are enslaved and trafficked so that their future may be restored," the declaration read.
"Today we have the opportunity, awareness, wisdom, innovation and technology to achieve this human and moral imperative," it added.
Publication date: December 3, 2014