Governor, first lady meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican

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ROME (WGNO) – The Vatican released pictures today of Gov. John Bel Edwards and First Lady Donna Edwards meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican.

The governor and his wife, along with State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson and state legislators, flew to Rome

Friday with Hospitaler Sisters of Mercy to discuss human trafficking.

Richard Carbo, a spokesman for the governor’s office, said their trip was not impacted by the 5.3-magnitude earthquake that struck central Italy today.

In April, the Hospitaler Sisters of Mercy broke ground on Metanoia House, a shelter in Louisiana for juvenile victims of human trafficking.

According to statistics from the governor’s office,  the average age of a trafficking victim is 13, and the Houston to New Orleans corridor has one of the worst trafficking problems in the country.

Since 2014, approximately 100 human trafficking cases have been investigated by Louisiana State Police, including:

  • 27 human trafficking cases in 2016, with 19 victims rescued (16 under the age of 18)
  • 41 investigations of human trafficking in 2015 (12 involving children), with 20 victims rescued in 2015 (11 under the age of 18)

“One of the greatest honors of a Catholic and Christian is to meet the Holy Father,” Edwards said in a news release.  “I am humbled by this opportunity, and I am looking forward to discussing the very real threat that human trafficking imposes on Louisiana.”

Also on the trip, Edwards and the delegation will tour the North American College, where a group of Louisiana students are studying abroad.