Report from first world meeting of Gypsy Priests, Deacons and Religious
The First World Meeting of Gypsy Priests, Deacons and Religious Men and Women, held in Rome from 22 - 25 September issued a statement yesterday.
Promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, the conference focussed on the theme: "With Christ at the Service of the Gypsy People". The 40 participants included 33 consecrated Gypsies from nine countries in Europe and from Brazil. The document has three parts: a report on the Meeting day by day, interventions and reports; conclusions; recommendations.
The report affirms that "the time has come for the consecrated Gypsies to endeavour so that the popular image of Gypsies as poor people who need help, will be overcome.
It says that "efforts need to be made with other members of the Church so that they too will consider themselves poor and in need of accepting the human and spiritual riches the Gypsies bring".
Besides highlighting the great diversity of the real living conditions of the Gypsy people from one country to another, the report says: "Contemporary Gypsy culture is in a stage of change because of technological development, the influence of the mass media and literacy, which offers new possibilities for evangelisation. For this reason, Gypsies are increasingly aware of their own dignity and, at the same time, feel the need to work for the human promotion of their brothers and sisters from their ethnic group". "It was confirmed that every service must be carried out in Christ and with Christ because in this way a human being can discover not only his own greatness and dignity and also that of others. Then the interpersonal services inspired by service make it possible to create an authentic culture of acceptance, solidarity and charity."
Various proposals and recommendations made during the meeting, include: more collaboration between the Church and Gypsy communities; greater effort to ensure special pastoral care for gypsies and to existing activity of pastoral workers; the possibility of creating structures similar to an apostolic Prelatures; encouraging the presence in every country of pastoral care "devoted exclusively to the mission to evangelise and human promotion among the Gypsy people "; the promotion of formation of catechists to evangelise among the Gypsy people, "with special attention for Gypsy women as bearers of human and religious values in the family"; "the work of integration must start from the family, basic nucleus of every human group, fundamental place for education to dialogue, sharing and creative and constructive relations".
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