Pope Francis says female genital mutilation is a crime against life

Pope calls female genital mutilation a crime that must stop WASHINGTON — Pope Francis said Sunday he was horrified by the widespread use of female genital mutilation (FGM), the barbaric operation by one person…

Pope Francis says female genital mutilation is a crime against life

Pope calls female genital mutilation a crime that must stop

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis said Sunday he was horrified by the widespread use of female genital mutilation (FGM), the barbaric operation by one person to another.

“FGM is a crime against life,” the pontiff said, referring to the practice of cutting off the external female genitalia and causing lasting physical and psychological damage.

“It is illegal,” he said at a Vatican mass held to mark World Health Day.

“It has a devastating impact on the physical and emotional health of girls and women — as well as on their health and well-being, and the health of their families.”

The Roman Catholic Church has long condemned the practice, which is estimated to take place in up to 400 countries around the world. There is strong public opinion in support of the church’s opposition, including from members of his church in Africa.

“This inhuman mutilation of children and young women, which takes place with the full knowledge and complicity of the religious leaders, is a crime against humanity,” the pope said.

Pope Francis also called for more support from governments, health organizations and citizens in battling the issue, saying the FGM victims “deserve no less than to be treated as victims.”

Pope Francis also said that Catholic communities in which the practice is carried out should cooperate with authorities in carrying out investigations.

A spokeswoman for the World Health Organization said in a statement Sunday that it was appalled by the practice of female genital mutilation worldwide, as well as by the Pope’s comments.

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