In this photo released by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano Pope Francis arrives at a conference about human trafficking, at the Vatican. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Vatican City - Pope Francis met four former prostitutes on Thursday, condemning the crime of human trafficking to which they fell victim as “a scourge upon the body of Christ.”

The women, who are living under police protection after reporting their abusers to authorities, came from Chile, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Argentina, Vatican Radio reported.

After a private audience with them, Francis met law enforcement officials and senior prelates who took part in a Vatican conference against human trafficking organized by British and Welsh bishops.

“Human trafficking is an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ. It is a crime against humanity,” the pontiff told them.