World

Pope urges governments, businesses and consumers to do more to end modern-day slavery

  • Pope Francis speaks during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    Pope Francis speaks during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis coughs as arrives in St. Peter's Square for his weekly general audience at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    Pope Francis coughs as arrives in St. Peter's Square for his weekly general audience at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)  (The Associated Press)

Pope Francis is urging governments and legislatures to do more to end modern-day slavery, calling for better laws and policies to prevent human trafficking, protect victims and prosecute those responsible.

Francis also urged businesses to ensure their distribution chains are free of slave labor and asked consumers to think twice about buying goods that may have been produced by child workers or other victims of undignified working conditions.

Francis' annual peace message, released Wednesday, focused on freeing the estimated 35 million people enslaved around the world.

The pope, who saw the plight of prostitutes and victims of trafficking in his slum ministry in Argentina, has made the issue of modern-day slavery a cornerstone of his pontificate.