Speaking to the Pope, a 32-year-old Nigerian woman and former sex trafficking victim said she was troubled by the fact that the majority of men paying for prostitutes in the streets of Rome seem to be Catholics. Francis responded by saying that it was indeed likely that nine in ten clients of prostitutes are baptized Catholics.
"I think of the disgust these girls must feel when men make them do these things," the Pope said, adding that he "would like to take advantage of this moment to ask your forgiveness, from society and from all the Catholics who carry out this criminal act."
According to the Pope, the sexual exploitation of women stems from a "sick mentality," and is a problem that must be fought against. "It is a sickness of humanity, a sickness of looking at society in a certain way, a crime against humanity," he said, adding that feminism has not been able to deal with the problem.
With human trafficking and sex slavery two major issues of his papal agenda, the pope urged young people to join him in the "battle" against forced prostitution, "for the dignity of women."
The Pope's new book, God is Young, will be released in Italy on Tuesday and is expected to be translated and published into English in time for the synod. The 160-page book is based on Francis' interviews with Italian journalist Thomas Leoncini, and tackles issues including the marginalization of young people and insecure working environments.