Pope Francis to step up fight against modern slavery and human trafficking
Pope Francis celebrates mass in St Peter's Basilica (AFP)

Pope Francis wants action against modern forms of slavery including forced labour and prostitution, the Vatican said Monday after a meeting of experts called by the pontiff to debate the problem.

Dozens of academics, doctors and clerics were hosted by the Vatican to discuss issues close to the pope's heart, including the struggle against organ trafficking and people smuggling.

"Some experts believe human trafficking will overtake drug and arms trafficking in a decade, becoming the most lucrative criminal activity in the world," Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, told reporters.

Sorondo said the pope was heavily invested in a subject he knows well from his years in Latin America and had even invited two experts on human trafficking that he knows from Buenos Aires.

Further meetings are planned in 2014 and 2015.

Participants said one of the worst and most worrying forms of slavery in Latin America is the use of children and adolescents as drug dealers.

Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, head of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, also stressed the importance of "zero tolerance" against prostitution saying it was linked to drugs, mafia violence and tax fraud.