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Pope hopes for Gypsy integration into European society

Catholic World News - June 13, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI met on June 11 with 2,000 Gypsies, and told them—using the words of Pope Paul VI—“You are in the heart of the Church."

The Gypsies, coming from many different European countries, had gathered in Rome to celebrate the 150th birthday of the birth of Blessed Ceferino Gimenez Malla, the first Gypsy to be beatified. He encouraged them to follow the example of Blessed Ceferino, strengthening their lives of prayer and devotion, so that they will have the spiritual strength “to face the risks that sects and other groups place upon your communion with the Church.”

Reflecting on the history of the Gypsies, the Pope remarked: “You have been left without a home and have come to consider the entire continent as your home.” He acknowledged that Gypsies have often “known the bitter taste of rejection,” and faced particularly brutal persecution under the Nazi regime, when many thousands were systematically killed in concentration camps. “The European conscience must not forget such pain,” the Pope insisted.

Today, Pope Benedict said, Gypsies have an opportunity to help build a new European society, providing fair treatment to all. He urged them: “Offer your active and sincere cooperation so that your families may be worthily established in the social fabric of Europe.”

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