Pope denounces prejudice against Roma during visit to Slovakia

Kosice, Slovakia, Sep 14 (EFE).- Pope Francis on Tuesday visited Lunik IX, an impoverished district of the Slovak city of Kosice where he denounced the prejudices and discriminatory stereotypes the Roma community has historically suffered.

The Pope told around 4,500 residents of the ghetto, which is home to Slovakia’s largest Romani community: “In the Church, you are not on the margins (…) You are at the heart of the Church”.

“In the Church, no one ought ever to feel out of place or set aside,” Francis said while addressing the people living in the largest Roma slum in Europe, where running water and electricity have been cut off and basic sanitation services are not provided.

Most of the Romani in attendance settled for viewing the Pope from a distance behind a fence while listening to traditional gypsy dances and choirs.

“We disfigure by our words the beauty of the children of God, who are our brothers and sisters. We cannot reduce the reality of others to fit our own pre-packaged ideas; people cannot be pigeonholed,” he added.

He denounced that the Roma community “too often they have been the object of prejudice and harsh judgments, discriminatory stereotypes, defamatory words and gestures”.

He stressed the need to “restore dignity” and to pass “from prejudice to dialogue, from introspection to integration”. EFE


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