Conferees Call for Recognition of Gypsies' Rights

Budapest Event Gathers Participants From 26 Countries

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BUDAPEST, Hungary, JULY 9, 2003 (Zenit.org).- A Vatican-organized conference here ended with an appeal to governments in favor of the full recognition of the rights and fundamental liberties of Gypsies.



The June 30-July 7 congress on the pastoral care of Gypsies, organized by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers with the help of the Hungarian bishops' conference, gathered 230 participants from 26 countries, including priests, religious -- and Gypsies. The event was held at the Peter Pazmani Catholic University.

The participants issued a document calling for the commitment of governments in guaranteeing the rights of citizenship and housing, which by definition will improve the conditions of health, education, schooling, and economic and cultural development of the Gypsy population.

Conferees also asked for an improvement in living conditions for Gypsies, that they be granted a right to a home without discrimination, and that their "caravans or mobile homes be assimilated with fixed domiciles, avoiding serious discrimination of treatment, in the personal and social statute, regarding nomads."

They appealed for "the abolition of every obstacle to free circulation for Gypsies, suppressing in particular the special circulation documents which constitute true 'internal passports.'"

Another matter discussed was the accessibility of preschool education for Gypsy youngsters, and "the need to take into account the human and cultural resources potentially represented by 4 million school-age Gypsy youth."

Moreover, the participants asked the Church to support the "pastoral commitment in favor of Gypsies throughout the globe, conscious of the profound ties that join evangelization with human development."

They asked Catholics and their pastors to speak out against the injustice, prejudice and discrimination of which Gypsy groups are often victims.