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Tuesday, July 8, 2003


VATICAN CITY, JUL 8, 2003 (VIS) - The Fifth World Congress of the Pastoral Ministry for Gypsies, promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples and by the Episcopal Conference of Hungary, was held June 30 to July 7 in Peter Pazmany Catholic University in Budapest on the theme "The Church and Gypsies: For a Spirituality of Communion." There were 230 participants from 26 countries.

Excerpts from the forthcoming Final Document were presented in a communique published by the pontifical council at the end of the assembly. In particular, the communique highlighted Part Three of the document, an appeal for the human rights and dignity of Gypsies.

The appeal asks that human rights and basic freedoms be accorded equally to Gypsies as they are to other peoples, and that these rights be subsequently - and equally - safeguarded. "Every Gypsy must be assured of a secure personal statute, ... all cases of statelessness must be eliminated and Gypsies must not receive disparaging documents, but rather ones identical to those of other citizens."

Congressional participants also ask for an improvement in living and housing conditions for Gypsies, that they be granted a right to a home without discrimination, and that their "caravans or mobile homes be assimilated with fixed domiciles, avoiding serious discrimination of treatment, in the personal and social statute, regarding nomads."

They appeal for "the abolition of every obstacle to free circulation for Gypsies, suppressing in particular the special circulation documents which constitute true 'internal passports'." Another matter taken into discussion is the accessibility of pre-school education for Gypsy youngsters, and "the need to take into account the human and cultural resources potentially represented by four million school age Gypsies youth."

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