"Any form of prostitution is a reduction into slavery," he laments. "A person can never be offered for sale"
Pope Francis has written the preface to a book written by a priest active in the ministry of saving women from human trafficking and the sex trade.
“Donne crocifisse. La vergogna della tratta raccontata dalla strada” (Women crucified: The shame of human trafficking as told from the street) is written by Fr Aldo Buonaiuto, a priest of the Pope John XXIII Community.
In the preface, the pope recalls a visit he made on a “Friday of Mercy” to a home run by this Community, which serves the victims of human trafficking.
He recalls his horror at finding “such humiliated, afflicted, and suffering women there.”
“Truly, women crucified,” he writes.
The Holy Father speaks of the experience of hearing the stories of these women, some of whom approached him with a child in their arms.
Afterwards, he says he felt the need to “ask forgiveness for the real tortures they had to endure because of their clients, many of whom call themselves Christian.”
“A person can never be offered for sale,” Francis continues.
The pope acknowledged the work that Fr. Buonaiuto and the Community have done, recognizing that it is a risky ministry since crime bosses do not want to lose these women, who are an “inexhaustible source of illegal and shameful profit”.
Pope Francis says he hopes this book will be widely read. If we are to effectively “combat the exploitation and humiliation of human lives,” writes the pope, we need to tell “the stories behind the shocking numbers” of people trafficked.
Pope Francis goes on to affirm that “any form of prostitution is a reduction into slavery, a criminal act, a disgusting vice that confuses love-making with venting one’s instincts by torturing a defenseless woman”.
He describes as “pathological” the idea that a woman can be exploited like a commodity to be used and thrown away. Prostitution is “a disease of humanity,” he adds, “a wrong way of thinking about society.” Freeing these slaves, says Pope Francis, “is a gesture of mercy, a duty for all people of good will.”
“Individuals and institutions cannot remain indifferent before their cry of pain,” concludes the pope. “No one should turn away or wash their hands of the innocent blood that is shed on the roads of the world.”