Pope Francis sneaks out of the Vatican to meet 20 former prostitutes

Pope Francis left the Vatican on Friday to visit a Catholic charity that is giving shelter to women rescued from forced prostitution, the Vatican said in a surprise announcement.

Francis met 20 women at the Community Papa Giovanni XXIII in Rome, including six from Romania, four from Albania, seven from Nigeria and one each from Tunisia, Italy and Ukraine.

"Today's visit by Pope Francis is another call to conscience to fight the trafficking of human beings, which the Holy Father has on several occasions defined as 'a crime against humanity,'" a statement said.

This year, on one Friday per month, the pope pays special visits to honour the Jubilee of Mercy, an 11-month Catholic festival that ends in November.

Previous destinations for Francis' so-called Fridays of Mercy have included the Nazi concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a migrant centre on the Greek island of Lesbos, and facilities around Rome for the elderly, mentally ill and recovering drug addicts.

Last update: Fri, 12/08/2016 - 18:02

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