The Pope has apologised to Roma people for the “discrimination” they have faced at the hands of the Catholic Church and asked for their forgiveness during a visit to Romania.
In a speech to the Roma community in the town of Blaj, Pope Francis said: “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. My heart, however, is heavy.
“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,” he added.
“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!”
Roma people consist of around 10 percent of Romania’s 20 million inhabitants Many have been marginalised, live in poverty and have suffered centuries of discrimination and insults.
The request for forgiveness came after the pontiff beatified seven Greco-Catholic bishops jailed and tortured during the Communist era.
“The new blessed ones suffered and sacrificed their lives, opposing a system of totalitarian and coercive ideology,” he told around 60,000 worshippers at mass on a “Field of Liberty” in Blaj. “