"Ten million children are forced to work in conditions of degradation (and) exposed to forms of slavery and exploitation such as abuse, mistreatment and discrimination. I hope that the international community can expand the social protection of minors to weaken this plague," he said.
The pope held a red-covered leaflet with the phrase "All together against child labor" in Italian. It is part of the International Labor Organization's "RedCard" campaign, urging people to "blow the whistle" in the manner of a soccer referee and give a "red card" to exploiters of children.
He added Thursday has been designated "World Day Against Child Labor." His comments came during a general audience.
The pope cleared his schedule and rested Tuesday following what the Vatican called "indisposition" Monday.