Pope in Romania asks the Roma for forgiveness over the discrimination inflicted upon them

Francis dedicated the last leg of his visit to Romania to the Roma community. “For all those times in history when we have discriminated, mistreated or looked askance at you, with the look of Cain rather than that of Abel, and were unable to acknowledge you, to value you and to defend you in your uniqueness.”

Bucharest (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis wrapped up his three-day visit to Romania early this afternoon with a meeting with the country’s Roma community, many of whom live in Transylvania, and with the dedication of a new church to Saint Andrew the Apostle and to the Blessed Ioan Suciu (pictured), in Barbu L─âutaru, a neighbourhood of Blaj, home to many Roma.

Welcomed by a Roma priest and a choir of children, Francis, in his greeting, began by asking “forgiveness of you. For all those times in history when we have discriminated, mistreated or looked askance at you”, noting that “in Christ’s Church, there is room for everyone. The Church is a place of encounter. We need to keep this in mind, not as a pretty slogan but rather as part of our identity card as Christians.”

 “My heart, however, is heavy. 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.”

“How many times do we judge rashly, with words that sting, with attitudes that sow hatred and division! Whenever anyone is left behind, the human family cannot move forward. Deep down, we are not Christians, and not even good human beings, unless we are able to see the person before his or her actions, before our own judgments and prejudices.”

“The history of humanity is never without Abel and Cain. There is the hand held out and the hand raised to strike. There is the open door of encounter and the closed door of conflict. There is acceptance and there is rejection. There are those who see in others a brother or a sister, and those who see instead an obstacle standing in their way. There is the civilization of love and the civilization of hate. Each day we have to choose between Abel and Cain. Like a person standing at a crossroads, we are faced with a decisive choice: to go the way of reconciliation or the way of vengeance. Let us choose the way of Jesus. It is a way that demands effort, but the way that brings peace. And it passes through forgiveness. May we not let ourselves be dragged along by the hurts we nurse within us; let there be no room for anger. For one evil never corrects another evil, no vendetta ever satisfies an injustice, no resentment is ever good for the heart and no rejection will ever bring us closer to others.”

At the end of the meeting Francis flew by helicopter to Sibiu airport where his plane was waiting to take him home to Rome.