Pope Francis on Thursday told about 500 members of the Roma and Sinti minorities that he is pained by hearing about racist attacks against them and criticised the people behind them.
“I pray for you, I am close to you. And when I read something nasty in the newspaper, I tell you the truth, I suffer. Today, I read something nasty and I am suffering,’’ Francis said.
This week, protests led by the neo-fascist CasaPound party have erupted in a district of Rome against the assignment of a council flat to a 14-member Roma family from Bosnia.
Several Italian media have published a video in which a CasaPound activist called the mother of the Roma family a “whore’’ and threatened to rape her.
The incident took place on Tuesday.
The woman was carrying a baby in her arms and had to be escorted into her newly acquired council apartment building by police.
Protests against Roma people, commonly blamed for thefts and other crimes – are common in Rome.
Parties like CasaPound say the state should put “Italians first,’’ before immigrants and Roma people.
Francis criticised moves to create second-class citizens, deploring people with a “this one first, then the other one’’ mentality when it comes to welfare rights.
“Yes, second-class citizens do exist, but the real second-class citizens are those who discard people because they cannot embrace them,’’ the pontiff said.
The Roma family targeted by CasaPound activists has been invited and was expected to attend a meeting later between the pope and members of the Catholic Church of Rome. (dpa/NAN)
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