Pope Francis yesterday presided over a prayer meeting with some 500 minority Roma and Sinti people and expressed his pain at the discrimination and racial hatred they face. He said he felt greatly pained when he hears about insults, racial hatred and violence against them. "This is not civilization… Love is civilization," the Pope said.
The initiative , organized by the Migrantes Foundation of the Italian bishops' conference (CEI) was attended by pastoral workers, CEI president Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti and others. The meeting came in the wake of violent protests by residents of a Rome suburb against the allotment of an apartment in a government housing complex to a Roma family.
After hearing moving testimonies of a Roma priest and a mother of four, the Pope regretted the "bitter pain of segregation" that they feel on their skin and that pushes them aside. "Society lives on fairy tales," stereotyping people as beggars and sinners, the Pope said, asking, "Are you not a sinner?" He said that all of us are sinners, we all make mistakes in life but I cannot wash my hands of them, looking out for the real or fake sins of others. The Holy Father said that one needs to first look at one's own sins, and if he or she sees someone making a "wrong turn", to help the person out.
"One thing that makes me angry," the Pope said, "is that we are used to talking about people with adjectives." Stereotyping persons with adjectives such as ugly, bad and evil are something "that creates distances between the mind and the heart."
This, he said, is not a political, social, cultural or language problem, but one of "distance between the mind and heart".
The Holy Father admitted that "second-class citizens" do exist "but the real second-class citizens are those who discard people… because they cannot embrace". With adjectives and slander, he said, these people throw out and discard others with a broom in hand.
"Instead, the real road is that of brotherhood." He warned against the danger and weakness of letting resentment or grudge grow because rancour sickens the heart, the head and everything and leads to revenge.
Without mentioning names, the Pope alluded to criminal organizations in Italy who he said are "masters of revenge" - "a group of people who are able to take revenge and live in "'omerta" [code of silence]. "This is a group of delinquent people; not people who want to work."
The Pope concluded urging all not to create distances in the mind and heart with adjectives.
We Need Your Support
ICN aims to provide speedy and accurate news coverage of all subjects of interest to Catholics and the wider Christian community. As our audience increases - so do our costs. We need your help to continue this work.
Please support our journalism by donating today.Donate