VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis is urging the world to show a greater commitment to fighting human trafficking, which he called "a form of modern slavery."
The pope made the appeal during his traditional Sunday prayer on the U.N.'s world day against trafficking.
Francis said "every year, thousands of men, women and children are innocent victims of labor exploitation, and sex and organ trafficking." He added: "This is ugly. It is cruel. It is criminal."
He called on the world to renew its commitment to battling "this abhorrent plague, a form of modern slavery," and to pray that the traffickers "change their hearts."
The International Labor Organization estimates that 21 million people around the world are victims of forced labor, including victims of human trafficking for labor and sexual exploitation.