VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Francis on Sunday spoke out about the plight of refugees and the traffickers who want to "enslave" them ahead of a visit to a parish near Rome's main railway station that cares for immigrants and homeless people.
"Let us think of the many migrants, the many refugees and their suffering," Pope Francis, the son of Italian immigrants to Argentina, said on a day the Catholic Church marks as the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
"Their lives are often without jobs and without documents and with a lot of pain," the 77-year-old said in his weekly address to thousands of pilgrims from a window overlooking St Peter's Square.
Pope Francis has shown particular attention to the issue and in his first trip as pope in July 2013 he visited the Italian island of Lampedusa, where tens of thousands of asylum-seekers have arrived from North Africa.
He has also repeatedly spoken out against human trafficking and on Sunday he railed against "the merchants of human meat who want to enslave migrants".
Addressing immigrants, the Argentine Pope said: "Do not lose hope in a better world! I hope you will live in peace in the countries that welcome you and retain the values from the cultures that you came from."
The Pope later on Sunday is expected at the Sacred Heart of Jesus parish near Termini station where he will meet a group of around 60 homeless people and another of some 100 migrants who attend the church.