Pope Francis has condemned domestic violence against women as “almost satanic”, in some of his strongest language yet on the issue.
The head of the Catholic Church made the remark during a programme broadcast on Italy’s TG5 network on Sunday.
He spoke to a panel of four people from difficult backgrounds, including a survivor of domestic abuse.
He lamented the “very, very high” number of women “who are beaten and abused in their homes.”
“The problem is that, for me, it is almost satanic because it is taking advantage of a person who cannot defend herself, who can only [try to] block the blows,” said Pope Francis. “It is humiliating. Very humiliating.”
He spoke with a woman named Giovanna who said she had escaped from a violent home with her four children.
The Pope added that women who suffered abuse had not lost their dignity.
“I see dignity in you because if you didn’t have dignity, you wouldn’t be here,” he told Giovanna. “Look at the Blessed Mother and stay with that image of courage.”
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis has made several comments about domestic abuse.
Incidents of abuse have increased in a number of countries, as many people are left trapped with their abusers during the lockdown.
According to a UN report which covered 13 countries, half of women surveyed said they’d experienced some form of violence since the start of the pandemic.
In Italy, police figures released last month reported around 90 episodes of violence against women every day – 62% of these were domestic abuse cases.
Addressing Giovanna, Pope Francis said it was possible to still have hope, even during the pandemic.
“You are giving an example of resistance, a lesson of resistance to calamities,” he said. “You’re coming out better than before.”