Pastoral Guidelines for Gypsies Published

To Aid Process of Inculturation of Gospel

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 1, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See has published an evangelization document particularly geared for the benefit of nomadic people.



"The Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of Gypsies" was presented to the press Tuesday by Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.

"These guidelines are a sign that the Church has a particular concern for Gypsies," the cardinal said. "They are the receiver of a special pastoral action in appreciation of their culture that, like all others, must pass through the paschal mystery of death and resurrection."

"In fact, everyone should be welcomed in the Church, where there is no place for marginalization and exclusion," he emphasized. "The one and only Gospel should therefore be proclaimed in such a way as to take account of different cultures and traditions: This is the process of inculturation."

"In the footsteps of its Founder, the Church should seek ever more suitable means to proclaim the Gospel also to Gypsies in a lively and effective way," the Japanese cardinal said. "The 'Guidelines' should help in this, as an instrument of the 'new evangelization' which Pope John Paul II so often requested us to engage in."

The 75-year-old cardinal explained that the idea of preparing the document arose in 1999.

It gathers the experience of the past 40 years, as the Holy See has offered particular pastoral care to Gypsies since 1965, when it established the international secretariat for the Apostolate of Nomads.

In 1988 John Paul II established the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.

The danger of relativism

At the press conference, Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, the council's secretary, said: "At present, there is the risk -- confirmed by facts -- of Gypsies falling prey to sects.

"In fact, Gypsies are particularly vulnerable because of their frequent migrations, which also bring them into contact with people belonging to other confessions and religions, exposing them somehow to the danger of relativism."

"Everything should be done to prevent them from falling into such sectarian traps," exhorted the prelate. "In this context, the document affirms that the new ecclesial movements could play a special role in this specific pastoral care.

"With their strong sense of community and openness, and the availability and special warmheartedness of their members, they could provide a concrete welcome and also encourage evangelization."

Archbishop Marchetto, 65, continued: "In this sense, both national and international Catholic associations of Gypsies and for Gypsies could play a major role, provided they maintain a constant relationship of communion with the local Churches and the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers."