Entitled “The Church and Gypsies: to Announce the Gospel in the Peripheries,” the meeting will take place June 5-9 and will gather both Episcopal Promoters and National Directors of the Pastoral Care of Gypsies, Vatican Radio reported June 3. The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People has organized the event.
Gypsy is an English term referring to Romani and other ethnic groups with a traditionally itinerant lifestyle. Romani is used in reference to a dispersed ethnic group of people with Indian origins who live primarily in Europe and the Americas.
According to Vatican Radio, the conference participants, who will meet with Pope Francis on the first day, will center discussion on two key objectives, the first being a re-examination of Church's pastoral commitment to Gypsies with an eye to the current social environment, which calls for new strategies.
The second goal will be to prepare for the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's visit to Pomezia on Sept. 27, 1965, for the international pilgrimage of Gypsies.
Including Mass and talks by Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò and of Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, President and secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, the meeting will also consist of a series of sessions focusing on the different aspects of Gypsy culture and evangelization.
According to Vatican Radio, there is already a set ministry for Gypsies in place in 24 countries around the world, including Europe, the United States, Brazil, Argentina, India and Bangladesh.
Within these communities are also ethnic Gypsy consecrated lay people, priests, deacons and religious, the agency reports, stating that an important element of the conference will be the increasing presence of consecrated Gypsies in the world, currently numbered close to 170.
There are currently three Gypsies who have an open cause for canonization, one of whom is Zefferino Giménez Malla, who Benedict XVI referred to as a “Martyr of the Rosary.” Other gypsie causes currently under consideration are for Emilia and Juan Ramon.
Living mostly in Europe, the Americas and some Asian countries, there are around 36 million Gypsies worldwide, with an estimated 18 million living in India, where the ethnic group originally came from.
Vatican Radio, who obtained their figures from the Council of Europe, also reports that there are around 500,000 sea Gypsies in Bangladesh, more than 900,000 in Brazil and one million Gypsies living in the United States.
A pontifical council has organized a conference at the Vatican to address the pastoral care of Gypsies, and will focus primarily on new strategies of evangelization.