Church Must Combat Injustice, Says Cardinal

Addresses Challenges Facing Gypsy Youth

FREISING, Germany, SEPT. 2, 2008 ( The Church cannot remain indifferent in the face of injustices and discrimination against anyone, and most especially against the marginalized, said the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Cardinal Renato Martino said this Monday upon opening the 6th International Congress for the Pastoral Care of Gypsies, held in Freising.

Some 150 participants are attending the event, which has as its theme “Young Gypsies in the Church and in Society.” The congress, organized by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers and the German episcopal congress, ends Thursday.

In his greetings to the participants in the congress, Cardinal Martino addressed the youth present, “This congress reserves for you a privileged place, as it considers you a richness for the Church and for society.”

The cardinal recalled that both Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI have stressed the importance of young people for the Church and for society: “[T]he Church needs your idealism and generosity, youthful faith.”

According to the prelate, young people today face “precarious conditions of life and lack of opportunities for formation and work,” which result in feelings of “being uprooted, and inequality.”

He said the youth also experience the “loss of confidence in themselves, in the family, and in political, juridical and educational institutions, both social as well as ecclesial.”

Not indifferent

In face of this situation of discrimination, “the Church cannot remain indifferent,” but “all Christians must assume their own responsibilities as regard respect for the dignity and rights of every human being,” added Cardinal Martino.

He said governments and international organizations must “protect the dignity and identity of every human being and of the whole of humanity.”

The cardinal lamented that, despite the fact that at present there is “considerable openness to and interest in gypsy peoples on the part of international and national organizations,” there is “a certain inflexibility and ambiguous postures on the part of some governments, which we cannot but deplore.”

The congress, he said, must serve to “renew our determination and will to serve our neighbor with charity and love.”

“It is our desire,” the cardinal said, “to seek with you the answers to the questions that you have in your heart, on the meaning of life and existence, on the relationship with God, with others and with nature, on the reason for the contempt for man and the abuse of his dignity, despite so many declarations confirming his rights.”

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