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Monday, June 13, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 11 JUN 2011 (VIS) - This afternoon the Holy Father received two thousand Gypsies from various European countries. They are participating in a pilgrimage to Rome, representing the 12 million Gypsies scattered across the continent.

  At the beginning of his address the Pope recalled Servant of God Paul VI's words to Gypsies in 1965: "'You are in the heart of the Church!' I repeat that today with affection: You are in the Church!".

  Noting that this year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Gypsy Blessed Ceferino Gimenez Malla and the 75th anniversary of his martyrdom, Benedict XVI told the group that Blessed Malla "invites you to follow his example and he shows you the way: dedication to prayer, particularly the rosary - which he always carried in his pocket - love for the Eucharist and other Sacraments, keeping the Commandments, honesty, charity, and generosity towards others, especially the poor. This will make you strong to face the risks that sects and other groups place upon your communion with the Church".

  "Your history", he continued, "is complex and, in some periods, sorrowful. ... You have been left without a home and have come to consider the entire continent as your home. ... Unfortunately, down the ages you have known the bitter taste of rejection and, at times, persecution as happened during World War II: thousands of men, women, and children were brutally murdered in the concentration camps. It was ... an episode still largely unrecognised".

  The Pope stated that "the European conscience must not forget such pain. Your people must never again be the object of abuse, rejection, or disdain! For your part, always seek justice, legality, and reconciliation and try not to be the cause of others' suffering".

  "I invite you", he exclaimed, "to write together a new page of history for your people and for Europe. The search for worthy living conditions, jobs, and also education for your children are the basis upon which to build that integration from which you and society as a whole will benefit. Offer your active and sincere cooperation so that your families may be worthily established in the social fabric of Europe".

  Benedict XVI concluded by telling his audience that they are also "called to participate actively in the Church's mission of evangelisation, promoting pastoral outreach in communities". In this context he emphasised how "priests, deacons, and consecrated persons who pertain to your ethnic groups are a gift from God and a positive sign of the dialogue between the local Churches and your peoples, which must be supported and developed. Be confident and listen to these brothers and sisters. With them offer a coherent and joyful message of God's love for the Gypsy people and all peoples. The Church desires that all men and women recognise that they are children of the same Father and members of the same human family".
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