On the Pastoral Care of Gypsies
"The Church Should Make Gypsies' Anxieties and Hopes Its Own"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 24, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is the text of the final document released by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers on the study meeting of the national directors of the pastoral care of Gypsies held Dec. 11-12.
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Study Meeting of the National Directors of the Pastoral Care of Gypsies
Vatican City, 11-12 December 2006
I. THE EVENT
On 11-12 December 2006, a Study Meeting of the National Directors of the Pastoral Care of Gypsies, on the "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of Gypsies, Careful Examination of the Document", was held at Palazzo San Calisto in Rome. The event was attended by 27 delegates from 21 countries, representing three continents: Europe (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine and Hungary), the Americas (the USA and, for the first time, Chile) and Asia (Bangladesh, the Philippines, India and Indonesia, who were also present for the first time).
The objective of the meeting -- in line with its theme -- was to carry out an in-depth study of the Guidelines, in order to promote their appropriate application. This first document produced by the Church, in its universal dimension, dedicated to Gypsies was published by the Pontifical Council on 8 December 2005.
The meeting began with a concelebration of the Eucharist, led by His Eminence Raffaele Renato Cardinal Martino, President of the Dicastery, who pronounced the homily. Commenting on the day's liturgical texts, after his words of welcome, the Cardinal affirmed that bringing the joyous message of salvation to Gypsies and helping them to recognise in Jesus Christ the Saviour who redeems the spirit and heals the body, is the heart of the pastoral care aimed at Gypsies, and should be carried out in a spirit of peace, with justice, truth, charity and freedom. Moreover, His Eminence recalled that, through his words and deeds, Jesus invites everyone to welcome him fully into their lives, and allow themselves to be shaped by heeding the Word, and through the Eucharist and personal prayer, in order to experience more intensely communion with God and one's brothers and sisters. Communion is a gift with very real consequences, as it takes us out of solitude and being closed in on ourselves, in order to participate in the love of God and communicate it to Gypsies.
The opening of the working session continued with the reading by the President of the Dicastery of a brief message sent for the occasion by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, in which the Supreme Pontiff encouraged "continuation of the important apostolic commitment in favour of the Gypsy population" and invoked the heavenly protection of the Mother of Christ and the intercession of the Blessed Ceferino Jiménez Malla. The Cardinal continued with his welcoming speech, dwelling on various important aspects of the Guidelines, which are fundamental for specific and appropriate care of Gypsies. First of all, His Eminence stressed the need for a careful analysis, carried out from an objective viewpoint, which enables and at the same time obliges recognition of the values of Gypsy culture, and safeguards the dignity of Gypsies and respects their identity. Therefore, he expressed a wish that initiatives for the promotion and defence of their rights be encouraged. He affirmed that it is vital for the Church to meet the expectations of Gypsies in their search for God, guiding their steps in accordance with the teaching of Christ. The Cardinal also deemed it indispensable to acknowledge the distressing history of this people, marked by reprehensible and deplorable acts, which are often still perpetrated against their human dignity. Referring in this respect to the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Cardinal Martino recalled that the Church does not remain silent, but rather responds to current challenges, on the basis of a Christian anthropology that takes into account, amongst others, human dignity, social relations and human actions in the world. Indeed, this is concretely expressed in the Guidelines, which do not hesitate to condemn situations that are hostile towards Gypsies, nor fail to claim greater justice for them.
Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, Secretary of the Dicastery, introduced the participants to the study of the various aspects of the Guidelines, by illustrating the agenda of the meeting. In a brief digression on the history of the document, which was approved by Pope John Paul II, Msgr Marchetto recalled the love and concern of Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II for Gypsies, who were providential in the turning point imprinted on their ecclesial belonging. Referring to the words of Pope Paul VI who opened the doors of the Catholic community to Gypsies: "You are not on the ...
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