Cardinal Martino addresses World Congress for Pastoral Care of Gypsies

 In his opening address to the Sixth World Congress for Pastoral Care of Gypsies in Freising, Germany, on Monday afternoon, he said: "In response to the discrimination and indifference suffered by many of our brothers and sisters, the Church 'cannot remain indifferent to social realities,' and calls all men, especially Christians, to assume their own responsibilities ... in order to guarantee full respect of the dignity and rights of every human being."

The Cardinal, who is President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, spoke of the "precarious living conditions and limited opportunities for work and education" of many Gypsies. This, he said, particularly made the younger generation feel marginalized, "with a loss of confidence in themselves and in their families, as well as in political, judicial, and educational institutions both on a public and private level,."

He said: "If individuals are expected to contribute to a just moral and social order in the community, with generosity and courage, all the more reason for governments and international and national organizations to protect the dignity and identity of every human being and of the entire human person."

Cardinal Martino recalled that in previous Congresses, attention had been given to "the principles of equality and working against discrimination. It became evident the need for a centralized service of the Church that would promote cooperation and dialogue with international and national organizations and with the various Christian churches, in order to eliminate any kind of discrimination and violence." The Cardinal regretted that in spite of the pleas made and the advice given, "while there is a considerable openness and interest for the Gypsy people on the part of international and national organizations, there is also a certain lack of flexibility and ambiguous attitudes on the part of governments that we find deplorable."

Concluding his speech, Cardinal Martino expressed his hope that this Congress may lead to "the commitment and will, on our part, to serve all people in charity and with love."

In his speech, Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, Secretary for the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, said: "the Church has always looked with confidence and Christian love towards the youth, accompanying them on their spiritual and earthly path, with maternal care and prudent affection." The Archbishop gave five points in his speech: formative background; modern-day challenges for Gypsy youth; factors/norms for an effective inclusion in society; international, national, and state organizations at the service of Gypsy youth; the Church and Gypsy youth.

Archbishop Marchetto presented some suggestions on themes that should be developed regarding Gypsy youth: creating more centres, offering training, study, professional preparation; promoting cultural exchange activities, so as to promote their educational progress and make them aware of the environment in which they live; form mixed committees of both Church and state authorities, in order to reflect on the problems to be faced and find plans of action; offering various activities (volunteer work, associations, sports groups, seminars, art classes) and prevention work to "pull" the youth out of the inertia of idleness, drugs, alcohol, etc.; identify and form leaders in their communities; make petitions to humanitarian organizations, Caritas, etc. for economic aid in the area of small loans for families and communities that prove to have a greater capacity in administrating the funds, for the benefit of the entire Gypsy population.

Source: Fides

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