Budapest (Fides Service) – “It is necessary to show more understanding and solidarity to gypsy peoples, putting aside any egoistic temptation of diffidence and indifference”: this is a passage from Pope John Paul II’s message to participants at the 2nd Congress on the Pastoral care of Gypsies held in Budapest 30 June to 7 July, organised by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples in collaboration with the Hungarian Bishops Conference.
The final statement, just published, reports on the work of the Congress and lists the resolutions adopted, among which we mention: invest in education and professional training for gypsies; give pastoral attention to gypsy families and communities; study suitable adaptations in liturgy, catechesis and mentality to gypsy customs and popular piety; produce the Bible in languages used by gypsies; think how to use radio and the Internet as tools for pastoral work including a Gypsy web page for Catholic Pastoral.
The Congress (203 participants from 26 countries mainly European but also from America and Asia) opened with an address by Archbishop Stephen Fumio Hamao, president of the Pontifical Council, who recalled the constant encouragement shown by Pope John Paul II to gypsy peoples, in particular with regard to the extermination of hundreds of thousands of gypsies in Nazi camps. After listening to various interventions the participants formed work shops from which common themes emerged: the Church must: devote more human and material resources to this pastoral work; coordinate better ministry of Gypsy Chaplains with that of local parish priests; take more care in preparing liturgy valorising gypsy culture; encourage pilgrimages rooted in Gypsy culture, so that these events may become an important part of pastoral care; the future of this pastoral care depends to a great extent on genuinely gypsy vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, including permanent deaconate which could be a useful. Lastly the extended Europe will open new horizons for gypsy mobility from one country to another, and this will present new problems and challenges to pastoral workers. SL (Fides Service 9/7/2003 EM lines 27 Words: 359)