Former prostitutes get special visit from Pope Francis

Pope Francis meets with former prostitutes assisted by the Pope John XXIII Community in Rome Aug 12 2016 Credit LOsservatore Romano CNA Pope Francis meets with former prostitutes assisted by the Pope John XXIII Community in Rome Aug. 12, 2016. | L'Osservatore Romano.

Pope Francis has visited a special community for women freed from prostitution and violent abuse as his latest 'Mercy Friday' initiative during the Jubilee.

On Aug. 12 he met the 20 women, all of whom have suffered severe physical violence and live under protection, who are cared for at the "Pope John XXIII Community" in Rome. Pope Francis has met with members of the community at the Vatican on several occasions.

The women present at the meeting are from all over the world, six being from Romania, four from Albania, seven from Nigeria, and one each from Tunisia, Italy and the Ukraine. The average age of the women is around 30 years.

A Vatican communique giving details of the visit stressed that the visit is a concrete sign of the Pope's repeated criticism of human trafficking, which he has called "a crime against humanity" and "a plague in the contemporary body of humanity, a wound in the flesh of Christ."

The general manager of the community, John Paul Ramonda, the chaplain, Don Aldo, two street workers and the apartment manager were also present at what was the Pope's eighth act of mercy, for his "Mercy Friday" initiative.

Pope Francis' most recent visit for the Jubilee of Mercy took place July 29 in Poland during World Youth Day, when he offered silent prayer at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and visited sick children at the pediatric hospital of Krakow.

A month before, in June, Pope Francis visited two communities of priests – the "Monte Tabor" community, which consists of eight priests suffering from various forms of hardship, and the Diocese of Rome's "Casa San Gaetano" community which houses 21 elderly priests, some of whom are sick.

In January Pope Francis visited a retirement home for the elderly, sick, and those in a vegetative state, and a month later traveled to a center for those recovering from drug addiction in Castel Gandolfo.

The Pope's act of mercy in March took place on Holy Thursday, when he traveled to the CARA welcoming center for refugees at Castelnuovo di Porto, washing the feet of 12 of the guests.

Migrants were also the center of the Pope's act of mercy in April, when he visited refugees and migrants during a daytrip to the Greek island of Lesbos. In May, he traveled to the "Chicco" community for people with serious mental disabilities at Ciampino.

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