Pope Francis spoke out against prostitution last Monday, calling it a “crime against humanity,” and asked for forgiveness from society for those with a “sick mentality” that frequent prostitutes.
Pope Francis made his fiery remarks in an intimate four hour long listening session called “We Talk Together,” comprised of over 300 young Catholics from all over the world who came to Rome to discuss any issues of the Church they wish. The meeting was held ahead of the synod of bishops in October that has a focus on “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.”
During the meeting, he encouraged everyone in attendance to speak with courage, without any shame or “anesthesia” to hold them back from being open. Blessing Okoedion, from Nigeria, was a victim of sex trafficking and brought to Italy but escaped from its clutches. She asked the supreme pontiff “Is the male chauvinistic church able to truthfully ask itself about this high demand by clients?”
Pope Francis responded with a strong condemnation of sex trafficking and prostitution, making the distinction that it is a criminal act, and anyone who uses prostitute are criminals.
“Who does this is a criminal. This is not making love, this is torturing a woman. Let’s not confuse terms. This is criminal, a sick mentality. Women are exploited in one way or another. And that is what explains this … it is a sickness of humanity, a sickness of looking at society in a certain way, a crime against humanity.”
Pope Francis said feminism has not been able to eradicate this exploitation, urging young Catholics to take up the fight against sex trafficking and prostitution and saying “this is one of the battles that I ask you young people to do, for the dignity of women.”
Finally, he asked for humble forgiveness from Okoedion and society for those who use prostitutes and support sex trafficking.
“I think of the disgust these girls must feel when men make them do these things. 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.”
Watch Pope Francis’ comments at the pre-synodal meeting below: