Vatican admits prejudice against gypsies

The Vatican admits past prejudice and neglect of the world's 15 million gypsies and called on governments to overcome "indifference or opposition" to the nomads.

"Many, in fact, share habitual prejudices towards them," said Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. "Signs of rejection persist, often without eliciting any reaction or protest from those who witness them."

Archbishop Agostino Marchetto said that "while the arrival of other people seeking refuge and of 'boat people' enables mobilisation of a given number of people and governments, that of gypsies usually brings about rejection, even if they come from very poor countries, and are sometimes forced to flee due to religious, racial or political persecution."

The Vatican document, titled "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of Gypsies", said "honesty and righteousness" should be encouraged to help gypsies abandon "easy money" routes such as drug trafficking and theft.

It also expressed willingness to train gypsies as Roman Catholic priests.

"These Guidelines," Cardinal Hamao said, "are a sign that the Church has a particular concern for gypsies, meaning that they are the receiver of a special pastoral action in appreciation of their culture. ... In fact, everyone should be welcomed in the Church, where there is no place for marginalisation and exclusion."

The text of the document is the result of a broad-ranging study to which pastoral workers, experts and gypsies themselves have all contributed.

Vatican admits prejudice against gypsies (Monsters and Critics/United Press International 1/3/06)
Gypsies: Pastoral action in appreciation of their culture (Vatican Information Service 28/2/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants & Itinerant People: Nomads - Shinti, Rom
Roma People (Wikipedia)

Sydney bishop outraged at slaying of refugee (CathNews 21/2/06)
Cardinal Hamao to speak at major Sydney migration conference (CatrhNews 6/10/05)
'Multicultural' Refugee Sunday message goes against the tide (CathNews 25/8/05)
Call for pastoral care for gypsies (CathNews 12/7/02)

Vatican admits to neglect of Gypsies (Sydney Morning Herald/London Telegraph 2/3/06)
We scorned gypsies, says Church (Irish Independent 1/3/06)
Cardinal McCarrick and Interfaith Leaders Call for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (US Conference of Catholic Bishops 1/3/06)
New document on care for much-persecuted Gypsies: Church must defend cultural identity, fight for greater justice (Catholic News Agency 28/2/06)
Vatican tackles pastoral care for gypsies (Catholic World News 28/2/06)
Presentation of document on pastoral care of gypsies (Vatican Information Service 23/2/06)
Vatican to release new pastoral document on care for often persecuted Gypsies (Catholic News Agency 23/2/06)
Immigration Calls for Countries to Work Jointly, Says Pontiff (Zenit 20/2/06)
Belgian, French bishops advocate for illegal residents (National Catholic Reporter 17/2/06)

2 Mar 2006