Pope asks forgiveness for historical mistreatment of Roma people

BLAJ, Romania (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Sunday asked forgiveness in the name of the Catholic Church for the mistreatment of the Roma people, a move likely to increase tensions with Italy’s anti-immigrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

Pope Francis meets with members of the Roma community in the Barbu Lautaru district of Blaj, Romania June 2, 2019. Andreas Solaro/Pool via REUTERS

Francis made the comment during a meeting with Roma people at the last event of his three day trip to Romania, saying his heart was made “heavy” by the meeting.

“It is weighed down by the many experiences of discrimination, segregation and mistreatment experienced by your communities. History tells us that Christians too, including Catholics, are not strangers to such evil,” he said.

With an estimated population of 10-12 million, approximately six million of whom live in the European Union, Roma people are the biggest ethnic minority in Europe and rights groups say they are often the victims of prejudice and social exclusion.

Salvini, who has clashed with the pope repeatedly on migration issues, reacted angrily last month when Francis received a group of Roma at the Vatican last month.

Salvini, head of the far-right Lega party and a deputy prime minister, responded by repeating his promise to close all Roma camps in Italy.

“I would like to ask your forgiveness for this,” the pope told the Roma. “I ask forgiveness – in the name of the Church and of the Lord – and I ask forgiveness of you. For all those times in history when we have discriminated, mistreated or looked askance at you …”.

A Roma youth, Razaila Vasile Dorin, told reporters: “It’s an honour that a person like the pope comes to our community. We are proud.”

“It’s important that the pope is asking forgiveness. There is racism in every country. When we go out everyone looks at us and we don’t like that. I am proud to be a gypsy.”

Earlier on Sunday, the pope said a Mass for some 100,000 people during which he beatified seven Communist-era bishops of the Eastern Rite Catholic Church who died in prison or as a result of their harsh treatment during Romania’s communist era.

“(The bishops) endured suffering and gave their lives to oppose an illiberal ideological system that oppressed the fundamental rights of the human person,” Francis said.

After World War Two, Romania’s Communist authorities confiscated properties of the Eastern Rite Catholic Church and ordered its members to join the majority Orthodox Church, which was easier for the party to control.

Historians say about half a million Romanians including politicians, priests, doctors, officers, land owners and merchants were sentenced and jailed in the 1950s and early 1960s and a fifth of them perished in prisons and labour camps.

Many Catholic properties taken by the Communist dictatorship or given by the government to the Orthodox have yet to be returned 30 years after the fall of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

Additional reporting by Radu-Sorin Marinas in Bucharest; Editing by Alexander Smith and David Evans

Source

more recommended stories

  • Undersea quake south of Indonesia’s Bali causes brief panic

    JAKARTA (Reuters) – An undersea earthquake.

  • House Intelligence chief presses social media companies on deepfake policies

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – U.S. House.

  • Nuclear deal parties not ready to launch dispute mechanism against Iran, prefer more diplomacy – EU

    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The remaining parties.

  • North Macedonia expects NATO membership, EU talks date by year-end

    LJUBLJANA (Reuters) – North Macedonia expects.

  • U.S. judge to hear financier Jeffrey Epstein’s bid to get out of jail before trial

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Jeffrey Epstein,.

  • U.S. military identifies soldier killed in Afghanistan

    (Reuters) – A U.S. Army soldier.

  • Clashes break out as Hong Kong protesters escalate fight in suburbs

    HONG KONG (Reuters) – Tens of.

  • First Ebola case in Congo city of Goma detected

    GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters).

  • Blackout disrupts Manhattan, darkens Broadway theatres

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – A wide.

  • Quake causes panic in eastern Indonesia; no reports of major damage

    JAKARTA (Reuters) – A magnitude 7.3.

  • Quake with 7.3 magnitude strikes in eastern Indonesia – USGS

    JAKARTA (Reuters) – An earthquake with.

  • Bangladesh’s Ershad, opposition leader and former army ruler, dies at 90

    FILE PHOTO: Bangladesh’s former army ruler.

  • Blackout plunges parts of Manhattan into darkness

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – A blackout.

  • Taiwanese president travels to Haiti to bolster relations in the region

    Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and Haiti’s.

  • Car bomb and all-night hotel siege kill 26 in Somalia’s Kismayo

    MOGADISHU/GAROWE, Somalia (Reuters) – Islamist gunmen.

  • Hong Kong protesters, police clash as demonstrations target Chinese traders

    HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong.

  • New Orleans residents huddle at home, and in bars, ahead of hurricane

    NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – Tropical Storm.

  • Somalia security forces end militant attack on hotel that killed 13 – police officer

    MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Somalia’s security forces.

  • Pence views overcrowded, bad-smelling facility for detained migrants in Texas

    MCALLEN, Tex. (Reuters) – Vice President.

  • Trump’s Labour Secretary Acosta resigns amid Epstein case

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Labour Secretary.

  • Nationwide wave of immigrant arrests to commence this weekend, Trump says

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A nationwide wave.

  • Russia delivers missile system to Turkey in challenge to NATO

    ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Russia began delivery.

  • Italy’s League – Too early to say if Panetta will be ECB candidate

    MILAN (Reuters) – The economic chief.

  • New North Korea constitution calls Kim head of state, seen as step to U.S. peace treaty

    SEOUL (Reuters) – Kim Jong Un.

  • Norway says Venezuela opposition and government talks to continue

    CARACAS (Reuters) – Talks between Venezuela’s.

  • Trump vows to ‘leave no stone unturned’ to obtain citizenship data for U.S. Census

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald.

  • Portugal charges 89 Hells Angels after Lisbon attack last year

    LISBON (Reuters) – Portuguese prosecutors have.

  • Hezbollah: New sanctions widen U.S. assault on Lebanon

    FILE PHOTO: Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed.

  • When the U.S. puts a border between migrant kids and their caretakers

    (Reuters) – On June 12, Gerardo,.

  • Britain says three Iranian boats tried to block its ship in Gulf

    LONDON (Reuters) – Three Iranian vessels.

  • Six foreign nationals killed as severe weather hits Greece

    ATHENS (Reuters) – Six foreign nationals,.

  • Egypt opens new international airport for trial period

    An EgyptAir plane arrives to a.