Pope Urges Protection for Europe's Gypsies

Pope Benedict XVI prayed that the world's Gypsies no longer be subjected to prejudice, oppression and rejection. Gypsies should always uphold "justice, legality, reconciliation and strive to never be the cause of someone else's suffering," he said in a festive meeting with nearly 2,000 Gypsies, Roma, Sinti and Travellers in the Vatican's Paul VI hall June 11. Pope Benedict recalled the painful past of the Gypsies, especially when hundreds of thousands of men, women and children "were barbarically killed in extermination camps" during World War II. He acknowledged that even today, many Gypsy communities and individuals still face "serious and worrying problems, such as often-difficult relations with the societies in which they live." Europe must not forget the suffering the Gypsy people went through, he said, launching an appeal that Gypsies "may no longer ever be the object of oppression, rejection and contempt." The pope also asked the Gypsy communities to do their part and respect local laws and be good citizens. He called on Europe and Gypsies to collaborate more closely and "write a new page of history together." Governments need to do more to help Gypsies integrate into society, he said. "The search for housing, dignified employment and an education for one's children are the foundations upon which to build that integration from which you and all of society will benefit," the pope told his audience.

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