European Church leaders have called for greater integration of the EU’s 10-12 million Roma, saying “their inclusion is a necessary indication of our commitment for a shared European identity and the free movement of people, commerce and ideas.”
A joint statement issued 8 April by the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) and the multidenominational Conference of European Churches (CEC) to mark International Roma Day describes the gypsy or traveler community as “among the most deprived and marginalized people of the continent.”
Daily discrimination, persecution of 600 year old community continue
Though the Roma have been present in Europe for more than 600 years, the statement says it is “a disgrace to all European countries” that they face “daily discrimination” and “even persecution.” It also charges that Roma are “often denied access to basic schooling, housing and healthcare.”
“We need to acknowledge their situation, through the centuries, in the Holocaust and presently, and our responsibility for it” the statement reads.
The Church leaders invite the EU’s Christian communities to “welcome the marginalized and uphold their human dignity as a gift from God” and to “continue to support Roma wellbeing and actively work to end hate speech and social exclusion.”
At the same time, they call the Roma people “with their unique traditions, faith and culture,” to “bring their values to European society as responsible citizens.”
Source: Vatican Radio
Among the members of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) are 33 Bishops’ Conferences and the Archbishops of Luxembourg, of the Principality of Monaco, the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus, the Bishop of Chişinău (Moldova), the Eparchial Bishop of Mukachevo and the Apostolic Administrator of Estonia. There are 39 members of CCEE, spread over a territory comprising 45 nations.
CCEE is charied by a President and two Vice Presidents elected for a renewable five-year mandate. The Secretariat is led by a Secretary General chosen by the CCEE Plenary Assembly for a renewable five-year mandate, and by a Vice Secretary General nominated by the Presidency. The Secretariat is based in St. Gallen (Switzerland).