At the end of the Angelus, the Pope also referenced the day's commemoration of the World Day for Leprosy Patients.
"Unfortunately, this disease still affects the most disadvantaged and poorest people. To these brothers and sisters, we assure our closeness and solidarity; and we also pray for those who assist them and work for their reintegration into society," he said.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, also released a message for the day. In it he wrote that it is worrying that despite intense efforts, humanity has not been able to definitively eradicate the "ancient" disease of leprosy.
Leprosy, also called Hansen's Disease, continues to be a significant health problem, he stated, primarily affecting people in precarious socio-economic conditions.
In 2017, the World Health Organization found a high concentration of the disease in just 14 countries, which alone account for 95 percent of new cases. India, Brazil and Indonesia have some of the highest rates.
The social stigma surrounding the disease remains one of the difficulties, Turkson wrote, quoting Pope Francis' words at an Angelus in January 2017, to "fight against this disease, but also against the discrimination that it generates."
"I thank all those who, for various reasons, are committed to the sick with Hansen's disease. May you assist and protect the Good Lord through the intercession of the numerous saints who have made the service of these sick people the reason for their life," the message concluded.
Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.