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Pope Francis: meeting with the Roma community, “I ask forgiveness” for when “we have discriminated, mistreated or looked askance at you”

“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”. Pope Francis addressed these words to the Roma community of Blaj yesterday, as he greeted the about 60 people gathered in the new church dedicated to St. Andrew the Apostle and Blessed Ioan Suciu, in the Barbu Lăutaru district. “In this spirit, I have wanted to shake hands with you, to look you in the eye and to open my heart to you, in prayer and in the hope of becoming part of your own prayers and entering into your hearts”, Pope Francis explained during the last public meeting of his trip to Romania. “My heart, however, is heavy”, he admitted. “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”. “I would like to ask your forgiveness for this”, the Pope went on to say: “I ask forgiveness – in the name of the Church and of the Lord – and I ask forgiveness of you. 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. Cain was not concerned about his brother. Indifference breeds prejudices and fosters anger and resentment. 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”.

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