NEW YORK – On April 9-10, Archbishop Demetrios participated in the meetings of The President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships to which he had been appointed by President Barack Obama. The Archbishop is one of the 15 members of this Council.
The two-day meetings took place at the Eisenhower Executive Building of the White House in Washington, D.C. The purpose was to submit the Council’s Final Report of Recommendations to the President concerning the building of partnerships between the government and faith-based and neighborhood organizations to eradicate modern-day slavery. Comprised by leaders from diverse religious and non-profit backgrounds, the task of the Council was to produce, in the course of several months, a report which addressed issues of human trafficking at home and abroad, that is, the exploitation of children, women and men for compelled labor or sexual exploitation through the use of force, fraud or coercion.
The Council worked in close cooperation with Joshua DuBois, Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the Office of Faith- Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and his successor in the same Office Melissa Rogers.
The report contains 10 recommendations which, in partnership with the government, will help to combat and eventually eradicate modern-day slavery and bring healing and dignity in the life of those who have been victimized by it. Among the recommendations are the raising of public awareness to the problem, the appropriate education of the public, the sharing of information, the increasing support from the public, and the collaboration with federal agencies and organizations to combat human trafficking.
President Obama met privately with the Council members in the West Wing, and thanked them for their dedication and input in the preparation of the report and its recommendations.
Commenting on the work of the Council, Archbishop Demetrios said: “It has been a great honor indeed to be appointed by President Barack Obama to a Council of such importance, comprised of outstanding religious and civic leaders. The task has been awesome because we had to deal with the tragic condition of slavery in our own times, of human trafficking ruthlessly involving millions of innocent people. Now is the moment of decisive action to eliminate slavery from the face of the earth. Once and for all!”
The final report was officially presented to the representative of the government, Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, for further utilization and incorporation in the policies of the Administration, and it is available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/advisory_council_humantrafficking_report.pdf.