A fuming nun slammed governments for allowing migrants to drown while trying to get to Europe.
Sister Eugenia Bonetti shared her forthright opinions with Pope Francis, families and priests from around the world at an annual Good Friday sermon.
The Italian nun is known for her progressive opinions works with trafficked women and campaigns to end prostitution.
The Pope invited Sister Eugenia to deliver messages on one of the most important dates in the Christian year in Rome. She used the high profile ceremony to highlight the refugee crisis and sex trafficking.
Royal Navy and German ships have been withdrawn from the task force to save people drowning in substandard boats provided by people traffickers.
European countries are set to withdraw sea patrols altogether that have saved the lives of thousands making the risky crossing across the Mediterranean from North Africa. Not only are ships to be withdrawn but rescuing migrants will be criminalised in some cases.
Operation Sophia had been set up in 2015 to stem the loss of lives when 3,771 people died or went missing attempting to reach Europe crowded into rickety boats – often at gunpoint – by people traffickers.
But since Italy’s new far-right populist government threatened to veto the EU operation sea patrols will be withdrawn on 30 September.
Instead the Libyan coastguard will be trained to step up, but refugee charities warn that they are unprepared for the scale of the problem, and the move leaves refugees at the mercy of Libyan detention centres, where abuse, rape and torture are rife.
Sister Eugenia Bonetti used the high profile Easter ceremony to highlight the refugee crisis and sex trafficking.
The 80-year-old nun also accused Christian men of using young girls for sex during the annual sermon, that was held in the Colosseum, in Rome.
Her hard-hitting written statements were attached to symbolic stations in the ancient amphitheatre – including a statue of Jesus nailed to the cross and being laid in the tomb.
Sister Eugenia was commissioned by Pope Francis to deliver the Stations of the Cross reflections and she wrote the controversial statements on each of the 14 stations which represent the stages of the Easter story.
The annual event which is held on Good Friday is attended by families, children and priests from around the world who carry a cross around the ancient Roman site to symbolise Christ’s journey.
In one of her written statements the pensioner criticised society’s hypocrisy where rich and old men paying young and trafficked women for sex.
She wrote: “A young girl with a slim body we met one evening in Rome while men in luxury cars lined up to exploit her.
“She might been the age of their own children.”
The nun slammed her own country which encourages “equal rights and dignity for all human beings” but turns a blind eye to modern slavery and human trafficking.
Her note read: “Men, women and children are bought and sold like slaves by the new traders in human lives,” she wrote as the crowd reflected on Jesus being nailed to the cross.
“How many people are growing rich by devouring the flesh and blood of the poor?”
Another written statement attached to second symbolic station lambasted western governments for their indifference to refugees who risk their lives escaping conflict and poverty to Europe.
It read: “The desert and the seas have become the new cemeteries of our world.
“While governments, closed off in their palaces of power, debate, the Sahara is filled with the bones of men and women who could not survive exhaustion, hunger and thirst.
“How much pain is involved in these new exoduses.”
Her criticism focused on the 26 Nigerian women who drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean in 2017 and a nine-month old baby called Favour whose parents attempted died when being illegally smuggled out of the west African country.
Pope Francis oversaw the Easter ceremony in the ancient amphitheatre from a raised platform and ended the event by acknowledging the nun’s concerns.
The historic Roman site was once used for gladiatorial contests and religious based torture and murder.
The Pope’s ending prayer referenced “the migrants who find the doors closed due to fear and hearts locked in by politicians’ calculations” and “the cross of our weaknesses, of our hypocrisies, of our betrayals, of our sins and of our numerous broken promises.”