Pope condemns xenophobia against gypsies but says they must obey laws

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 26, 2015 8:45 AM

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis condemned xenophobia and discrimination against Europe's gypsies on Monday but said they also must do their part by respecting the law and sending their children to school.

The pope made his comments at an audience for several thousand Roma, Sinti and other itinerant peoples that was marked by colorful flamenco-style dancing and traditional music of violins and Spanish guitar.

The pope, who has visited several camps of nomads on Rome's outskirts since his election in 2013, condemned the precarious conditions in which many of them live.

"We no longer want to see family tragedies where children die of cold or in fires," he said.

In defending their right to keep their culture he said: "The time has come to uproot centuries-old prejudices, preconceptions and reciprocal diffidence that often are at the base of discrimination, racism and xenophobia."

But he also said Christian gypsies had to do their part, "avoiding everything that is not worthy of this name: falsehood, fraud, swindles, fighting".

He also mentioned drug trafficking, human trafficking and the abuse of gypsy children, many of whom beg on the streets of Europe's big cities.

Francis said that while the state had to guarantee education, it was "the duty of adults to see to it that children go to school".

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Tom Heneghan)