Europe: Concern for the Gypsies

Jesuits are directing renewed attention to the plight of Europe?s most invisible minority of 12 million people, the Gypsies, people who have wandered through Europe?s history and terrain for centuries now. The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) European office believes it can be helpful to this specific group, and hopes to map the situation of Gypsies, especially in countries acceding to the European Union. Their poor living conditions might well be the source of potential unrestrained migration and this can cause problems for many, not least the Gypsies themselves. Du?an Bezák SJ (Slovakia) is involved with this issue and participated in the annual meeting of the Catholic Gypsy Commission (CCIT — ?Comité Catholique pour les Tsiganes?), an organisation of religious and lay people involved with Gypsies. The meeting took place on 21-23 March in Torhout (Belgium), with more than 100 participants from EU members as well as candidate countries. The theme of the conference, ?Festivities of the Wanderers? is an attempt to highlight the sense of festivity within the Romany (Gypsy) culture and the need to nurture it as a part of pastoral care. Some of the participants have been working with Gypsies for many years in Eastern Slovakia, a region known for hundreds of very poor Gypsy settlements, where diocesan priests and Salesians run successful pastoral centres. Slovakian Jesuits in formation wish to develop ministry with Gypsies and gathered last year to share their first experiences. This successful co-operation will continue this year. [HL30305]