Pope Francis has likened prostitution to torture and said the exploitation of women into the sex trade is a ‘crime against humanity’. The Pope asked for forgiveness from society for Catholic men who use.

His frank comments came in a question and answer session in Rome with young people from around the world. Blessing Okoedion, a 32-year-old Nigerian who was once a victim of human trafficking, told the Pope she was troubled that many clients of prostitutes on the streets of Rome are Catholics. She said: ‘I ask myself and I ask you, is it possible for a Church that is still too male chauvinist to be able to question itself truthfully about this high demand by clients?’

Francis said that in Italy it was likely that some 90% of male clients of prostitutes are baptised Catholics. He added: ‘I would like to take advantage of this moment to ask forgiveness from you (exploited women) and society for all the Catholics who carry out this criminal act. ‘I think of the disgust these girls must feel when men make them do these things.’

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