The Holy See
back up

 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 110 (Suppl.), August 2009


Young Gypsies, a resource for the civil and ecclesial community 


Archbishop Agostino MARCHETTO


Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of

Migrants and Itinerant People


Before getting into the subject matter, I have to make some preliminary remarks about the terminology I have used, which I consider obligatory and essential for a good statement of the theme and for mutual understanding. The term “Gypsies” used by us refers to various ethnic groups, including the Roma, Sinti, Manouches, Kalé, Gitani, Travelers, etc. In Western Europe (e.g., the United Kingdom, Spain and France), in some areas of Russia, and in Asia and America, the term “Gypsy” is more accepted and sometimes more appropriate or the equivalent “Tsigane”, “Gitanos”, Cigány”, “Tsyganye”, whereas in Central or Eastern Europe, the term “Roma” is widely used in reference to these peoples. As a matter of fact, for many Roma and Sinti, the term “Gypsies” has a pejorative meaning because it is connected with widespread negative, paternalistic stereotypes in their regard. In the European context, the word “Rom, Roma” can include all the groups of this people in one name.

The other term that needs to be outlined is the expression “young Gypsies”. What young people will we be talking about during this Congress? What age group will we take into consideration when we refer to the Gypsy reality? While the young gağé (non-Gypsies), even at eighteen or thirty years of age, are still coping with the challenges of formation in its various aspects, for young Gypsies the passage to adulthood, with the related demands for responsibility, is much quicker and takes place very early. Some of them at the age of 14 and 15 have already taken on all the responsibilities involved in some choices in life (e.g., marriage).

When speaking about young Gypsies, it is easy to resort to some simple generalizations. In fact, the image we have of them often depends on our representations and reasoning as adults. The young Gypsies are rarely considered in themselves, in their originality and rich resources. In this way there is also the risk of looking at the reality of young Gypsies with many limits, whereas anyone who is planning to study them has to take into consideration the complexity of the person, the surrounding environment, and the social, cultural, political and also religious processes that influence the development of the young Gypsies’ future personality and identity.

From this viewpoint, we will adopt two “golden rules” dictated by the young people themselves who need not only a space for their participation, but also a strategy for communication. Learning to listen to them is the first golden rule, and our Congress is a positive albeit difficult occasion to put it into practice. The second rule will be “For them, but with them”, which is in tune with listening.


On the occasion of his visit to Loreto (Italy) last year, Pope Benedict XVI stopped to talk with the young people at the prayer vigil in a spontaneous, friendly dialogue with some of the participants.  They asked the Pontiff some questions and I consider one of them particularly meaningful for our reflection. I quote: "Many of us young people in the suburbs do not have a centre, a place or people with whom we can identify. Often we are without a history, a perspective or even a future. It seems that what we really wait for never happens. From this come the experience of solitude and at times, an improper dependence on others. Your Holiness, is there someone or something by means of which we can become important? How is it possible to hope when reality negates every dream of happiness, every project of life?".[1] The Holy Father began his answer in this way: “…each one of you is important because each is known and desired by God and God has his plan for each one. It is our task to discover and respond to it, so that despite these precarious and marginalized situations, we will be able to put into practice God's plan for us”. The Pope continued: “The world - we see it - must be changed, but it is precisely the mission of young people to change it!”.[2]

The Church has always looked upon young people with great confidence and Christian love and accompanied their spiritual and earthly itinerary with maternal concern and wise affection, despite everything. An example? Let us think of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. It was aware of the rich resources that young people represent for the Church and society and it did not hesitate to describe young people as the “hope of the Church”. This expression was very dear to John Paul II and he repeated it often at various meetings. During his recent voyage in Australia, Pope Benedict XVI also used this expression again when he reminded young people that they are called to be “prophets of hope” and “artisans of renewal” in society and the Church. On that same occasion, the Pope noted: “Many young people today lack hope. They are perplexed by the questions that present themselves ever more urgently in a confusing world, and they are often uncertain which way to turn for answers. They see poverty and injustice and they long to find solutions. They are challenged by the arguments of those who deny the existence of God and they wonder how to respond”.[3]

Having said this, here in five points, is the essence of my introductory address starting with 

1. Formative Background

In general, when referring to young people today, we talk about “children of globalization”, “children of the media”, or a generation that lives and communicates by means of mobile phones, Internet and webcams. As to their behaviors, young people are generally considered unenthusiastic, protesters or disinterested in political and social commitments, and so on. Now, if these opinions are true, can they be applied to the young Gypsies? And to what extent?

Naturally, I cannot offer any complex pictures here of the young Gypsy reality—I too have come to Freising to learn—regarding their commitment in social life or their participation in the life of the Church.  We will all listen carefully to our speakers--Father Membrey, Dr. Rizzin, Most Rev. Sigalini, Most Rev. Clemens, Father Nathan, Sister Belen and Mr. Gheorghe--who are all experts in their fields.

In any case, I remind myself and you that our interest is focused here on the young Gypsies as a resource for the Church and society.  When we talk about resources, there is a tendency to highlight the presence of an asset to be exploited in a good sense, and/or attention is given to how to invest it for earnings, profits and interests.  But we need to be careful because a young person as a resource cannot be considered an object or a thing.  In any project or system that concerns him, it must be kept in mind that he is a human person endowed with a dignity whose recognition can make possible the common and personal growth of all (Cf. Jas 2:1-9).[4] From this dignity the right springs “to take an active part in public life, and to make his own contribution to the common welfare of his fellow citizens”.[5] Therefore young people are a resource for society in as much, as they are involved in the progress of their community under the sign of solidarity and concern for man and everything that concerns him.

With regard to the participation of young Gypsies in local and regional community life, from the conclusions of the study session organized by the Forum of European Roma Young People (FERYP) in collaboration with the European Youth Center Budapest of the Council of Europe,[6] we can see that their “ideals” do not differ much from those of most of their gağe peers. They ask the regional and local authorities of the Council of Europe State Members: to encourage the development and achievement of pilot programs, initiatives and projects aimed at improving the young Gypsies’ participation in public life; to facilitate the creation of Centers for Gypsy youth where they can plan and take part in different initiatives and activities; to examine their situation in relation to access to social rights and improve programs that will assure their access to these rights; to develop and improve or support programs and activities that will encourage and favor the interaction between Roma and non-Roma youth, as well as intercultural learning.[7]

From this there appears to be a desire to be well integrated into society and included in all the processes that have to do with its organization and functionality in which to carry out decision-making and responsible roles, attain a good level of cultural education and enjoy remunerative work in order to be involved in political and support activities in favor of their people (ethnic group), and be citizens for all intents and purposes, capable of co-responsibility and active, critical solidarity in building intercultural societies. Young Gypsies are a resource to be enhanced through support and promotional initiatives on the international, national and regional levels.

On the other hand, there is a portion of young Gypsies who reveal tendencies towards delinquency (drugs, alcohol, begging, stealing, purse snatching), which may be a consequence of previous coercion or of trafficking, especially of children, girls and young women, which is related in turn to different factors such as a particular kind of poverty, the breakdown of institutional support structures, widespread discrimination, social marginalization, and the lack of educational and scholastic opportunities. 

2. Challenges to young Gypsies today

Most of the Gypsies who live in our countries are citizens of these countries to all intents and purposes. However, from various evaluations of their situation it appears that in addition to being victims of prejudices and negative stereotypes, they still belong to the social group that has fewer opportunities and is forced to come to terms with the problems of discrimination and inequality which affect the educational system and employment in particular. Moreover, they encounter difficulties in obtaining full access on an equal footing to social security, health care, housing, public services and justice. Also, they constitute the group which most of our autochthonous peoples consider “less desirable” as neighbors and they are often subject to segregation, including territorial segregation. 

Discrimination, xenophobia and even racism sometimes result in acts of violence which strike the weakest and most vulnerable, particularly children, boys and girls and youths, and this has repercussions on some social structures, such as the educational system and employment, as well as in the sphere of the mass media.

The educational system in Europe, according to the Policy Paper on Youth & the European Social Model,[8] is a failure in terms of inclusion, quality and “philosophy”. Almost one in six youths (between 15 and 24 years of age) has only finished primary school, and one in 10 adults (between 25 and 29 years of age) have not completed secondary school. There are some groups of youths that tend to leave school because of open or veiled discrimination and so they are less likely to have access to higher educational levels. This tendency affects first and foremost the members of the Gypsy minority. In this regard, the tentative Draft of Status Report 2008 of the OSCE/ODIHR, which is still subject to rectifications and changes, presents the educational situation of Gypsy children 12 years of age and over in some European countries. It reveals that in Kosovo only 1 in 10 Rom has finished elementary school. In all the other countries, with the exception of the Czech Republic, less than 2 in 10 Rom have completed primary education. Moreover, many Rom children and youths are forced to attend separate and special schools, for example, schools for the mentally disabled. As a result, many young Rom people have not developed the necessary skills to have access to a suitable job or autonomous employment.

In the working world the situation does not appear to be better.  Worldwide, there are 86.5 million unemployed young people, which includes 7% who no longer have any hope of finding a job. Many of these belong to the ethnic minorities.

The above-mentioned tentative Status Report presents two positive examples of carrying out professional formation projects in the Gypsy communities in two European countries: Spain and Hungary. With regard to Spain, the Spanish Gypsy community represents a total of about 650,000 people out of an approximate total of 42 million inhabitants. The Fundación Secretariado Gitano, supported by the European Employment Strategy, launched the “ACCEDER” project aimed at helping the Gypsies to acquire professional skills and promoting the Gypsies’ access to quality work. In the 2000-2006 programming period, the project managed to get more than 20,000 people involved, half of them Gypsies under 30 years of age.  In Hungary, on the other hand, in the small municipality of Szigetvár (in the Southwest of the country), a group of 36 Gypsies successfully completed a “complex” (overall) formation program financed in the framework of human resources development. Out of this group, 26 people were successfully inserted into the working world.

With regard to the religious and spiritual dimension, secularization unfortunately takes a special hold on the world of young people who are more readily attracted by the false, glittery prospects it offers to the detriment of the religiosity they may have experienced in their families. Young Gypsies inevitably come into contact with their gağe peers, watch television, navigate on Internet, and breathe the secularized air that often shows no interest in religion.  This raises questions in them that were unknown to their parents who are not well prepared to answer such questions, which they had never asked themselves, because until now the existence of God had always seemed obvious to them. This makes the pastoral care of young Gypsies an urgent matter to be given priority.[9] 

3. Factors/norms for effective social inclusion

The situation of the young Gypsies is different depending from the countries where they live, and so some flexibility is needed in planning activities suited to favoring the process of authentic integration in order to respond to the needs of the different groups.  In any case, some rules need to be taken into consideration in the process of social inclusion.[10]

First and foremost, giving a sense of responsibility is crucial for the integration of young people, and this should be in agreement with the anti-discriminatory norms or regulations to ensure a certain equality of opportunity. To achieve integration, governments ought to guarantee the right to full participation in the host societies and, if necessary, facilitate access to obtaining the nationality, as well as provide opportunities to learn and master the national language, and help in confronting the negative perception, for example, by monitoring discrimination in the mass media. Lastly, access to the working world needs to be facilitated.

A sense of belonging and autonomy rightly implies that the young people are guaranteed the necessary support, resources and opportunities to be able to choose an independent life, enjoy the possibility of full social and political participation in all the sectors of everyday life, and be able to make decisions with rightful independence.[11] The lack of access to adequate basic services, such as social protection, health care and a healthy, secure living environment, are factors that can keep the young Gypsies from pursuing their necessary autonomy and consequently their effective responsibility.

Education is the process that lays the bases for achieving one’s personal potential, and it is a necessary asset for integration into society both through the acquisition of knowledge, experiences and attitudes essential for active participation as a citizen in society, and through the development of abilities and skills to be creative and have entrepreneurial initiative and the necessary requisites to perform a job.[12] Education is thus a prerequisite for participation on an equal footing with others in political, social and economic life in the respective countries.[13] Education should also encourage rightly critical thinking and responsibility which in turn are necessary to build an ever more human society based on the principles of justice, equality and fraternity.

Work is the key to full integration into society, and so young people should be ensured the possibility to work decently.[14] The passage from education to employment is one of the major concerns of young people today inasmuch as they have to face more and more barriers that hinder their entrance into the working world due to the shortcomings of the educational system.

Dignified and wholesome housing is also one of the factors that condition the success of the passage from poverty and social exclusion to integration and to overcoming the de facto conditions of segregation in camps with no minimum services.  It is obvious that the Gypsies are among the most vulnerable groups with regard to housing conditions. Despite the measures adopted to improve these conditions, there is still much to be done in this regard. Naturally, I have to speak in general terms and so you may not recognize yourselves in what I am saying. Please be patient for now and you will be able to speak at the time reserved for dialogue. In any case, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) invites the States to develop and implement policies and projects aimed at eliminating the segregation of the Gypsy community with regard to housing and at getting the Rom communities and associations involved as partners, together with other people, in projects for building, retrieving and maintaining housing. The Committee also calls for firm action against the illegal expulsions of Rom and against the local provisions that deny residency to the Rom or put them in camps outside the inhabited areas, in isolated places that have no access to health care or other basic services.[15]

Access to medical care is a fundamental right of every person, but it is often denied to the Gypsies. In fact, they risk being excluded from this “social policy” if they are unemployed for a long period of time (in Bulgaria and Romania) or have no valid documents (in Romania and Slovenia). Moreover, access to health care proves to be difficult for the Gypsies living in isolated rural areas or in camps located in city outskirts with limited or non-existent public transportation services, such as in Greece, Spain, Italy and Hungary. In the meantime, some praiseworthy initiatives can be seen in this area, such as the formation of Gypsy mediators in Spain, and the condemnation of forced sterilization of Rom women in the Czech Republic (tentative Draft of Status Report 2008 of the OSCE/ODIHR).

The mass media can play an important awareness-building role in combating the prejudices and negative stereotypes with regard to the Gypsies, according to the Council of Ministers in the Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti within the OSCE Area.[16]  Therefore, it encourages the formation of Rom and Sinti journalists and their use in the media-related channels in order to favor the freedom of expression and facilitate their greater access to the media.  Lastly, it recommends organizing round tables between representatives of the media and the Gypsies. 

4. Provisions of International, National and State Organizations in favor of Gypsy Youth

Many positive changes should be pointed out with regard to the participation of the International and State Organizations, as well as many NGOs, in defending the rights of the Gypsy people. In some States, bodies have been created to combat discrimination. In others, visible and positive changes are noted in the area of development and the adoption of national strategies to improve living conditions.  There are also many international and national organizations, as well as Gypsy NGOs, making efforts so that the international norms and action plans or strategies in favor of the Gypsies will be applied by the States. However, we have to note again, unfortunately, that much still remains to be done in practice.

In the international and national area, it seems right to mention the names of some praiseworthy institutions, which are naturally not all of them.

The Council of Europe

Since 1993, the questions concerning the Rom/Gypsy peoples have been at the heart of the Council of Europe’s three main priorities: 1. the protection of minorities, 2. the struggle against racism and intolerance, 3. the fight against social exclusion. To these are added education to human rights and intercultural dialogue, the participation of youth and democratic citizenship, social cohesion, the inclusion of youth, and the development of youth policies. These priorities are carried out through activities that range from formation courses, study sessions, intercultural language courses, seminars, meetings of experts and for research, and publications and consultation on policies for the development of youth. The European Youth Centers of Strasbourg and Budapest and the European Youth Foundation play an important role in carrying out these activities.  Recently, young Gypsies have added the Forum of European Roma Young People (FERYP), which was mentioned earlier. Here we also have to mention

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe with its Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti within the OSCE Area.  It aims at strengthening the initiatives of the State Members and the competent OSCE institutions and structures to ensure that the Rom and Sinti peoples can carry out a full-fledged role on an equal footing in the corresponding societies, and to eliminate the discrimination against them. The special measures foreseen by the above-mentioned Action Plan are based on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

The European Forum for Roma and Travelers, a consultative body to the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, makes it possible to know more about the diversity of the Gypsy communities in Europe and makes its voice heard more in national and European decision-making bodies. 

5. The Church and young Gypsies

This theme would merit more space in my address, but instead I have almost come to the end.  You will make up for this in the well-balanced development of the Congress.

In view of the many problems and challenges young Gypsies must face in their daily lives, what position does the Church takes or should she take, and what role does she assign to the agents of a specific pastoral care for the Gypsies, which is naturally not in opposition to the ordinary, territorial, parochial care?

In the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici, No. 46, we read: “The Church has so much to talk about with youth, and youth have so much to share with the Church. This mutual dialogue, by taking place with great cordiality, clarity and courage, will provide a favorable setting for the meeting and exchange between generations, and will be a source of richness and youthfulness for the Church and civil society”.[17] The II Vatican Ecumenical Council said at regard that “in fulfilling its educational role, the Church, eager to employ all suitable aids, is concerned especially about those which are her very own. Foremost among these is catechetical instruction, which enlightens and strengthens the faith, nourishes life according to the spirit of Christ, leads to intelligent and active participation in the liturgical mystery and gives motivation for apostolic activity. The Church esteems highly and seeks to penetrate and ennoble with her own spirit also other aids which belong to the general heritage of man and which are of great influence in forming souls and molding men, such as the media of communication, various groups for mental and physical development, youth associations, and, in particular, schools”.[18]

We also spoke about this a lot in our Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of Gypsies. In fact, in No. 59, we read: “Due to the Gypsy mentality, pastoral action will be more effective when carried out among small groups. Personalized and shared faith experience is easier in this way, with everyone taking part in the same events, analyzing them in the light of the Gospel, and relating individual experiences of an encounter with the Lord. In such groups, Gypsies are among themselves and in their culture, and their personal commitment and lay responsibility are appreciated”.

The Document also suggests this: “The new ecclesial movements that the Holy Spirit has awakened in the Church could play a special role in this specific pastoral care. With their strong sense of community, openness, and the accessibility and cordiality characteristic, they could indeed provide a concrete space for the ‘emotive’ religious expression of Gypsies, and also encourage better evangelization among them through mutual interaction.  Similarly, it would be useful to create a space for international and/or national Catholic associations in the specific pastoral care for Gypsies”.[19]

Through their development and cognitive maturity, young people are able to form a relatively objective idea of their own situation, that of others and the reality around them, and of the Church too. Now, we can ask ourselves: What idea, what image of the Church do Gypsy youth have? How do they see and feel the Church, and how would they like her to be or hope she would be?

Being marginalized, relegated to the margins of humanity and humiliated in their dignity, the Gypsies need a living Church, a Church-communion (Cf. Guidelines, Nos. 96-98), that can form and help to overcome the difficulties which “the leading politics obviously cannot manage to solve”.[20] However, “merely approaching Gypsies with love and the desire to proclaim the Good News is not sufficient to create a relationship of trust between Gypsies and gağé pastoral agents…Overcoming this initial attitude may come about only through concrete manifestations of solidarity also by sharing its life”.[21]  Do young Gypsies recognize in our Church, the Church we represent, a community open to diversity and dialogue, or do they see her as too structured and distant from the people?

Of course, if the Gypsy communities and also young Gypsies look at the Church as the Church “of the gağé, far and inaccessible”, it would be difficult to achieve fraternity between the Gypsies and the gağé.[22] Isn’t there a danger that the young people may want to create a parallel Church with its own dimensions and sensitivities that is made to fit for them? Building bridges (Cf. Guidelines, No. 98), showing trust and listening in order to offer help and take responsibility for others, forming communities and groups where young people can walk together in order to support one another in difficult situations and poverty: can’t these be ways to make them take part and be alive in our churches? This, moreover, is what we try to do with the young gağé.

Young people are also constantly searching for values and ideals.  Perhaps without realizing it, they want to know and experience, almost “to touch with their own hands”, like the Apostle Thomas (Cf. Jn 20:25-28), what can have meaning in life and in their existence. The Church, as Christ willed it, with her preferential choice for the poor, but at the same time with her riches and wisdom, must be able to offer young people the Word of Truth and Life on which to build, develop and celebrate their faith, but also life and freedom, and with her help to solve existential problems by discovering the value of the sacraments, as the Guidelines suggest (Cf. Nos. 62-69). We read in No. 65: “Pastoral care regarding confirmation, a sacrament that is almost unknown among the Gypsy community, is important, especially for young people. Preparation for confirmation allows to make up for previous inadequacies in Christian initiation, based on the catechumenal model, educating candidates towards a free and informed belonging to the Church. Whilst introducing the baptized person to full participation in the life of the Spirit, the experience of God and witness to the faith, confirmation also enables him to discover the meaning of his Church membership and missionary responsibility. It is also vital to give importance to the community, the other ‘subject’ of the sacrament. Thus should be included in the catechesis, in an intergenerational manner, so that on the occasion of celebrating ‘its confirmed members’, the community itself may experience the grace of a new Pentecost, itself being confirmed by the breath of the Holy Spirit in its Christian vocation and evangelizing mission”. 

Let us remember that ecclesial service must be carried out in Christ and with Christ because in this way a human being can discover his own and others’ greatness and dignity. The interpersonal relations that spring from this service will also make it possible to create an authentic culture of welcome and hospitality, solidarity and charity.[23]  I have said a culture of welcome, as John Paul II used to say, especially in the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Europa: “Everyone must work for the growth of a mature culture of welcome which, in taking into account the equal dignity of each person and need for solidarity with the less fortunate, calls for the recognition of the fundamental rights of each immigrant. Public authorities have the responsibility of controlling waves of migration with a view to the requirements of the common good”.[24]

As we read again in the Guidelines, “The Word of God proclaimed to Gypsies in the various fields of pastoral action is more likely to be well received if it is proclaimed by someone who has shown tangible solidarity with them in everyday situations. Moreover, in the specific area of catechesis, it is important always to include dialogue that allows Gypsies to express how they perceive and live their relationship with God”.[25] For young people in particular, those significant persons are very important who act as go-betweens in adjusting an adolescent’s rich cognitive world to the less scintillating riches of everyday reality. So what concrete attitudes should we take on if we want to live in communion with the young people? What concrete abilities for listening and understanding should be developed? We are all counting on the contributions from everyone, but especially from the young people present here to answer these noteworthy questions. 


Young people possess all the qualities to put themselves in the forefront in facing the challenges which a new evangelization—linked with human promotion—raises for the Gypsy world too, and to get into the action firsthand. Young people in politics are capable of innovations in the face of the often rigid patterns of thought, and they manage to combine innovative solutions with traditional schemes by taking advantage of and benefiting from the experience and wisdom of their culture, which is “not written in a book, but is no less eloquent for this reason”.[26] So what initiatives should be identified and carried out in order to “take advantage” of the resources and potentialities of the young Gypsies?

Allow me to make some modest suggestions, which will need to be developed further on your part.

More centers should be created, including ecclesial centers, with possibilities for recreation, study and professional training. I will give an example: On October 21, 2006, the Slovak Salesians inaugurated a center for the approximately 1500 Rom in Bardejov (the total figure in Slovakia is 300,000). The structure was named after the Spanish martyr, Blessed Ceferino Giménez Malla, called “El Pelé”, the first member of a Gypsy ethnic group to be beatified.  The center includes an elementary school and a nursery school dedicated to Blessed Ceferino, a church which is also named after him, the Saint Dominic Savio oratory, and an outside section of the Saint Elizabeth University.

I would ask you to please let us know during the course of the Congress about any other initiatives of this kind so we can all rejoice for them, be edified by them and invited to spiritual emulation.

The second suggestion has to do with the promotion of cultural exchange activities among the young Gypsies that can contribute to their educational process and make them aware of the environment in which they are living. For this purpose, brief study visits (if and where possible) and meetings with young people from different regions and countries should be fostered in order to encourage them to gain greater awareness of the other cultures and consider common subjects (history, information, perception of identity, etc.) from another perspective.

The third suggestion concerns the formation of mixed commissions of ecclesial and state authorities to reflect together on the problems to be addressed as well as to plan relative action strategies. The diocese of Vicenza (Italy)—and I say this with joy because this is my diocese of origin—offers an example to be followed in this regard (cf. Letter of H.E. the Most Rev. Cesare Nosiglia, Figli dello stesso Padre [Sons of the same Father], November 1, 2006).[27]

Lastly, it would be necessary to offer activities (volunteering, associations, sports groups) and prevention in order to “pull out” young people from inertia, a lack of commitment, drugs, alcohol, and so forth.

Identifying and forming leaders for their communities should also be an important question. We know this because of the difficulty we encountered in getting some young Gypsies here who are willing to talk about their lives and experiences.

Finally, it would be useful to ask the humanitarian organizations and the Caritas, to allocate microcredit, with subsequent controls, for the families and communities that show greater ability in using them for their ethnic group.

I will conclude by reading Pope Benedict XVI’s appeal to young people: “…break through the hard crust of our indifference, our spiritual weariness, our blind conformity to the spirit of this age…and be ‘prophets’…A new generation of Christians is being called to help build a world in which God’s gift of life is welcomed, respected and cherished – not rejected, feared as a threat and destroyed. Only in this way can we oppose a ‘spiritual desert’ that lives ‘side by side with material prosperity’”.[28] This applies to everyone.

For us who are gathered together here, this is an invitation to take care of a new generation of Christians among the Gypsies. 

Thank you!


[1] Benedict XVI, Prayer Vigil with Young People, Loreto, 1 September 2007:

[2] Ibid.

[3] Benedict XVI, Message to the Beloved People of Australia and to the Young Pilgrims taking part in World Youth Day 2008, 4 July 2008: benedict_ xvi/messages/pont-messages/2008/documents/ hf_ben-xvi_mes_20080704_australia_en.html.

[4] Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, No. 145: rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html.

[5] John XXIII, Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris:

[6] Cf. Forum of European Roma Young People (FERYP), Report of the Study Session Campaigning for Roma Rights and Equality of Opportunities, European Youth Centre Strasbourg, January 21-28, 2007.

[7] Cf. ibid.

[8] Cf. European Youth Forum, Policy Paper on Youth & the European Social Model (COMEM 0098-08-Final), May 2-3, 2008.

[9] Cf. Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of Gypsies, No. 79: People on the Move, XXXVIII (April 2006) Suppl. to No. 100, p. 69; councils/migrants/pom2006_100-suppl/rc_pc_mi-grants_pom100-suppl_index.html.

[10] Cf. European Youth Forum, l.c., pp. 6-9.

[11] Cf. ibid., p. 7.

[12] Cf. ibid., p. 6.

[13] Cf. Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti Within the OSCE Area, Decision No. 3/03, Maastricht, 2 December 2003, p. 9.

[14] Cf. European Youth Forum, l.c., p. 7.

[15] Cf. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 9 of the Convention, Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:

[16] Cf. OSCE, l.c., No. 36.

[17] John Paul II, Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici, No. 46:

[18] II Vatican Ecumenical Council, Declaration Gravissimum Educationis, No. 4:

[19] PCPCPMIP, l.c., No. 78.

[20] Cf. Benedict XVI, Prayer Vigil with Young People, Loreto, September 1, 2007.

[21] PCPCMIP, l.c., No. 74.

[22] Cf. Claude Dumas, Challenges for Evangelization and Human Promotion in the Light of the “Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of Gypsies”, First World Meeting of Gypsy Priests, Deacons and Religious Men and Women, Rome (Italy)  22 - 25 September 2007.  

[23] Cf. PCPCMIP, First World Meeting of Priests, Deacons and Men/Women Religious Gypsies, Final Document.

[24] John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Europa, No. 101.  Regarding the theme of the culture of welcome and solidarity cf. also PCPCMIP, Erga migrantes caritas Christi, Nos. 39-43: documents/rc_pc_migrants_doc_20040514_erga-migrantes-caritas-christi_it.htm

[25] PCPCMIP, Guidelines…, No. 60.

[26] John Paul II, Address to the Participants in the Third International Congress on the Pastoral Care of Gypsies, November 9, 1989, No. 1: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XII, 2 (1989), 1195.

[27] The document was published by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People in the review People on the Move XXXVIII (December 2006) 102, pp. 341-436.

[28] Benedict XVI, Homily, Eucharistic Celebration on the occasion of the 23rd World Youth Day, Randwick Racecourse, Sydney,  20 July, 2008: benedict_ xvi/homilies/2008/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_ 20080720_xxiii-wyd_en.html.