Czech Cardinal on International Romani Day: We are all members of the same Christian family
News server Romea.cz has asked Cardinal Dominik Duka about his motivation for accepting a request to celebrate Mass on International Romani Day in Prague. His entire response is presented in translation below.
Mass for the common life of all nationalities in the Czech Republic
- WHEN: 8. 4. 2017, 11:00
- WHERE: Church of the Sacred Heart, Prague 3 (Jiřího z Poděbrad Square)
Statement by Cardinal Duka
There are two reasons I have gladly decided to serve this pilgrimage church service for citizens of Romani nationality. The first reason is that it is a significant event in our country, so to welcome the gathering, and I am the chair of the Czech Bishops' Conference, historically considered the successor to Saint Adalbert, in the country where that saint fought for equality and against the sale of slaves. Prague was the biggest slave market in Central Europe for two entire centuries - in the ninth, 10th and into the 11th century. Those were the struggles of Saint Adalbert and of Saint Václav before him. I think it is appropriate to remind us all that even today we are still not approaching others as we should. Yes, we talk about human equality and human rights, but we still manage to divide people into a caste system.
The second reason is that the church is doing its best to support ethnic Romani people worldwide. The beatification of the first Romani man, Zefferino Giménez Malla, took place in 1997 under Pope John Paul II. Zeffirino paid with his life during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s. Now Pope Francis has also beatified a 23-year-old woman of Romani origin, Emilia Fernández Rodríguez. She was imprisoned after her husband refused to go to fight alongside the Revolutionary Guards, who devastated cathedrals and monasteries in Spain during the Civil War. One of her fellow prisoners taught her the rosary, and when the brave young woman refused to betray the name of her spiritual teacher, she was thrown into solitary confinement. She gave birth to a daughter there and died of blood loss several days later. Her daughter may still be alive, but she knows nothing of her mother's fate, because she was adopted. Those important historical moments oblige me to preside me over the solemn liturgy on International Romani Day. We are members of one Christian family, including citizens of Romani nationality, and common witnesses of the faith.
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