Pope Francis spoke to a mass crowd in Thailand and condemned the exploitation of women and children for prostitution in the country.
The 82-year-old said Mass in front of tens of thousands of Roman Catholics in Bangkok’s National Stadium.
Tens of thousands more watched the ceremony on large screens in an adjacent stadium.
The excitement was palpable amongst the Catholic community in Thailand. The majority of the population follows Buddhism.
“For us, it is as if God himself is here,” said one follower Nutaporn Kwanmuang.
During his address, Pope Francis referenced the reputation Thailand has as a sex-tourism nation.
He said: “Here I think of children and women who are victims of prostitution and human trafficking, humiliated in their essential human dignity.”
Thailand has an estimated 123,530 sex workers, according to a 2014 UNAIDS report.
Pope Francis did express appreciation for the Thai government’s efforts “to extirpate this scourge, and for all those private individuals and organisations working to uproot this evil and to provide ways to restore the victims’ dignity”.
However, he insisted there is still much work to be done before the issue will be eradicated.