Pope Francis Meets Rescued Women

In yet another sign of his strong stance against human trafficking, Pope Francis made a surprise visit to 20 women who have been rescued from sexual slavery. The pope met with the women on Aug. 12 at a refugee center in Rome, the Pope John XXIII community, which houses people rescued from prostitution. The visit was one of the regular gestures Francis has made to highlight the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which runs through 2016. The Vatican said in a statement that the women were from a range of countries, including Romania, Albania, Nigeria, Tunisia and Ukraine, as well as Italy. All suffered severe physical abuse during their ordeals and are living under protection, the Vatican press office said. The statement said the pope’s visit was another reminder of the urgent need to combat human trafficking. Francis has been particularly outspoken against trafficking and slavery, calling it “a crime against humanity” and “an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ.”

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