Europe

Pope meets with 20 freed sex slaves living under protection

  • Pope Francis talks to a woman during his visit to the Papa Giovanni XXIII community in Rome, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. Francis has met with 20 women from six countries who have been freed from prostitution as part of his Holy Year of Mercy activities focusing on communities that have experienced suffering. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

    Pope Francis talks to a woman during his visit to the Papa Giovanni XXIII community in Rome, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. Francis has met with 20 women from six countries who have been freed from prostitution as part of his Holy Year of Mercy activities focusing on communities that have experienced suffering. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Franci, left, sits during his visit to the Papa Giovanni XXIII community in Rome, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. Francis has met with 20 women from six countries who have been freed from prostitution as part of his Holy Year of Mercy activities focusing on communities that have experienced suffering. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

    Pope Franci, left, sits during his visit to the Papa Giovanni XXIII community in Rome, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. Francis has met with 20 women from six countries who have been freed from prostitution as part of his Holy Year of Mercy activities focusing on communities that have experienced suffering. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis kisses a baby during his visit to the Papa Giovanni XXIII community in Rome, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. Francis has met with 20 women from six countries who have been freed from prostitution as part of his Holy Year of Mercy activities focusing on communities that have experienced suffering. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

    Pope Francis kisses a baby during his visit to the Papa Giovanni XXIII community in Rome, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. Francis has met with 20 women from six countries who have been freed from prostitution as part of his Holy Year of Mercy activities focusing on communities that have experienced suffering. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Pope Francis has met 20 women from six countries who have been freed from prostitution as part of his Holy Year of Mercy activities focusing on communities that have experienced suffering.

The Vatican said the meeting Friday was a call to combat human trafficking, which the pope has defined as "an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ."

The Vatican said all of the women, whose average age was around 30, had suffered great physical violence and live under protection. They were from Romania, Albania, Nigeria, Tunisia, Italy and Ukraine.

The pope has dedicated Fridays throughout the Holy Year to the suffering, including visiting Syrian refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos and praying silently at the Auschwitz-Birkenau former Nazi death camp.