Gypsies Must Feel Sense of Belonging, Says Senior Vatican Official

President of Pontifical Council Speaks to International Catholic Committee for Gypsies

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Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, has sent a message to the International Catholic Committee for Gypsies (CCIT) a week before the committee’s meeting from April 4th through 6th in Cavallino-Treporti.

In the message, Cardinal Veglio noted the negative sentiment many possess for gypsies.

“In our globalised world, in fact, walls continue to be built that divide the peoples of the same continent, people from the same country or the same city,” he said, and spoke of how heart is needed to confront challenges.

“Also among the European countries, some are still negatively influenced in their political choices regarding the Roma to whom you are close in your respective pastoral commitments,» he said.

«The challenge you face with evangelical courage in your pastoral activities demonstrates that to tear down walls, one must begin in the heart, the first space where another is included, and as long as hearts are not open, it will not be easy to achieve an inclusive society. So this moment of reflection offers you the opportunity to put your energies together to create a social dynamic in which the different cultures can live together.”

Cardinal Veglio emphasized how gypsies must feel a sense of belonging. “The Gypsies need the humanity of the society in which they live in order to feel like members of the human family and benefit from the rights enjoyed by the other members of the community in respect for their dignity and identity,» he said.

«There is a need for tenacious, patient work on everyone’s part. The Church can be of inspiration and make the efforts converge into a common commitment in order to face the dilemmas at the basis of the Roma’s human difficulties … The document ‘Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Gypsies’ continues to be a fundamental reference for you and you should use it as well as possible for your service in the midst of this People because it offers important guidelines that are the fruit of common work.”

He discussed gypsies’ rights, saying the Roma «have the right to be recognised at least as ethnic minorities in the countries where they live since they are the largest minority in the European Union.”

Concluding his messaging, he wrote, “The Church has the task to bring Jesus’ Gospel in their midst but also to support their dream of integration which passes through education, health, work and housing, and all of this in collaboration with people of good will.” (D.C.L.)

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