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Pope denounces violence against women, demands protection

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis is denouncing the verbal, physical, psychological and sexual violence that women endure and is demanding greater protections for them.

Francis dedicated his February prayer intentions to female victims of violence, and said those who commit such abuses are cowards.

“It’s shocking how many women are beaten, insulted, and raped,” he said. “The various forms of ill-treatment that many women suffer are acts of cowardice and a degradation of all humanity. Of men and of all humanity.”

He praised those women who “dare to break their silence” to seek help and said the church can’t look away.

“Let us pray for women who are victims of violence, that they may be protected by society and have their sufferings considered and heeded by all,” he said in the video prayer message released Monday.

Francis has spoken out before about femicide and violence against women, most recently during his Jan. 1 homily in St. Peter’s Square, saying such offenses are akin to profaning God.

Prior to that, Francis has acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by priests as well as the broader societal “plague” of femicide in Latin America.

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