Pope Francis asked forgiveness Monday for all individuals who buy sex from women, saying men who frequent prostitutes are criminals with a "sick mentality" who think that women exist to be exploited.
"This isn't making love. This is torturing a woman. Let's not confuse the terms," Francis insisted while speaking to a gathering about 300 young people in Rome on Monday.
He told them prostitution is slavery.
Francis has denounced all types of human trafficking, including prostitution, since he was archbishop of Buenos Aires in his native Argentina from 1998 to 2013, when he was elected Pope.
Since then, he's stepped up his campaign against human trafficking.
Speaking to one attendee, Nigeria resident Blessing Okoedion, who was forced into prostitution but escaped, Francis concluded: "I want to take advantage of this moment, because you talked about baptized and Christians, to ask your forgiveness, from society and all the Catholics who do this criminal act."