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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis asks forgiveness from gypsy community in name of Church

Before bidding farewell to Romania, Pope Francis wanted to meet in Blaj with a part of the gypsy community. The meeting was held in a parish in a popular neighborhood of the city, where Pope Francis was received with great enthusiasm.

He heard the testimony of a Greek-Catholic priest of gypsy ethnicity. Responding to Fr. Ioan, the pope recalled a very essential fact: in the Church, there is room for everyone.

"In the Church of Christ, there is a place for everyone. If it were not like that, it would not be the Church of Christ. 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."

Pope Francis lamented the discrimination the gypsy people have suffered historically. He also mentioned it on behalf of the Church. Therefore, he asked for forgiveness.

"I would like to ask your forgiveness for this. I ask forgiveness, in the name of the Church and of the Lord, and I ask forgiveness from you. For all those times in history when we have discriminated, mistreated or looked wrongly at you, with the look of Cain, rather than that of Abel. When we were unable to acknowledge you, to value you and to defend you in your uniqueness.”

The pope explained that every day there is a crossroads, choosing between Cain or Abel. This means choosing revenge or reconciliation. Pope Francis invited them not to be carried away by revenge.

"One evil never corrects another evil. No revenge ever satisfies an injustice. No resentment is ever good for the heart and no rejection will ever bring us closer to others."

The short but intense encounter ended with everyone praying the Lord's Prayer, a blessing and this farewell by Pope Francis. 

"See you soon!"