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Pope Francis apologizes to Romani people, asks forgiveness for discrimination, mistreatment and segregation

3.6.2019 13:10
Pope Francis meeting with Romani people in Blaj, Romania, 2 June 2019. (PHOTO:  Vatican News)
Pope Francis meeting with Romani people in Blaj, Romania, 2 June 2019. (PHOTO: Vatican News)

Agence-France Presse (AFP) reports that Pope Francis, speaking in the name of the Catholic Church at the close of a three-day visit to Romania yesterday, asked Romani people to forgive the discrimination, mistreatment and segregation they have experienced from the church. "I ask for your forgiveness in the name of the Church - from the Lord and from you - for cases when we have discriminated against you in the past, treated you badly and viewed you with mistrust," the Pope said when meeting with representatives of the Romani minority.

Pope Francis went on to say that after meeting with local residents, his heart became heavy. "It was heavy because your communities have lived through so many experiences of discrimination, segregation and ill-treatment. History shows us that this evil is not unknown to Christians and Catholics," the Pope said.

"It is indifference that provides fertile ground to prejudice and also fuels grudges," the Pope continued. According to Reuters, the Pope's communications could increase tensions between Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and the Vatican, because the Pope has also clashed with Salvini several times over migration.

After the Pope received a group of Roma at the Vatican in May of this year, Salvini responded by repeating his promise to close all of the encampments occupied by Romani people in Italy. The Roma are the biggest ethnic minority in Europe, with an estimated 10-12 million Roma living in many different states such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary and Italy.

About six million Roma are estimated to live on the territory of the European Union, comprising 1.2 % of the population. According to human rights organizations, Romani people frequently fall victim to prejudice and social exclusion.


ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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