Pope Francis on Saturday condemned female mutilation and domestic violence against women, calling them degradations that had to be combated.
"The many forms of slavery, the commercialization, and mutilation of the bodies of women, call out to us to be committed to defeat these types of degradation that reduce them to mere objects that are bought and sold ...," he told a meeting on women's issues hosted by the Vatican's Council for Culture.
According to the United Nations, more than 140 million girls and women have undergone some form of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) around the world, mostly in Africa and the Middle East.
He also denounced domestic violence against women.
"Although it is a symbol of life, the female body is unfortunately not rarely attacked and disfigured, even by those who should be its protector and life companion," he said.
The pope recently met with an Italian woman who underwent many operations after her boyfriend threw acid in her face to punish her because she wanted to leave him.
Francis also repeated that he wanted women to have a greater role in the 1.2 billion member Roman Catholic Church. He did not mention the Church's ban on women priests. He has said before that the "door is closed" on the issue.
He told the group he wanted to see "a more capillary and incisive female presence" throughout the Church, adding that women should be given more pastoral responsibilities in parishes and dioceses and that there should be more women theologians.
Francis has said before that he is studying ways of giving nuns and other women senior positions in the male-dominated Vatican. (Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Stephen Powell)