Francis said surrogate motherhood represented a grave violation of the mother and child and urged the international community to prohibit the practice.
Surrogacy is when a woman carries a baby for a couple who are unable to conceive or carry a child themselves for medical or physical reasons.
“I consider despicable the practice of so-called surrogate motherhood, which represents a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child, based on the exploitation of situations of the mother’s material needs,” he said.
“A child is always a gift and never the basis of a commercial contract.”
Francis has previously voiced the Catholic Church’s opposition to what he has called “uterus for rent,” and some European countries prohibit it, including Spain and Italy. At the same time, however, the Vatican’s doctrine office has made clear that homosexual parents who resort to surrogacy can have their children baptised.
Francis also warned global peace was increasingly threatened and weakened, citing Israel, Ukraine and climate change during his foreign policy address to ambassadors.
He denounced the “large-scale war waged by the Russian Federation against Ukraine”. It marked an unusual break with Francis’ usual tendency to avoid blaming Moscow directly for the invasion when expressing solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
He also condemned Hamas’ 7 October assault on Israel. He said the attack provoked a strong Israeli military response that had left thousands dead and created a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.