Tribesmen are happier than modern people

The gypsy pastoral care.

   Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care for Migrants and People on the Move

V. World Congress of Pastoral Care for Gypsies

Budapest, Hungary, June 30– July 7, 2003

 

 

S.E. Bishop Leo Cornelio, SVD

Bishop of Khandwa, India

 

terminology

Beginning with the dawn of human civilization, there have always been groups of people wandering from place to place for various reasons. We use terms such as "nomads", "gypsies", "migrants, travelers, refugees", etc. for these wandering groups were driven from their homes and from their sedentary way of life by imperative circumstances such as war, political turmoil, economic pressures, etc. Others wander their entire lives because the type of work they do requires it, or for reasons we who prefer a more sedentary way of life may never understand. We use the proper name "Gypsies" to refer to people who belong to this latter group. "Nomads" is another term that is often used for them. "Nomadism" means that a people often changes their place of residence in search of livelihood. It does not mean that these people wander around in an unrealistic manner with no aim; rather, it concentrates around centers where the nomads pursue a temporary activity. How long they stay depends on whether this continues to offer opportunities to achieve the desired goals that are offered elsewhere. [1]

The word "Gypsy" or "Gipsy" (English for "Gypsies") is said to come from a corruption of the word "Egyptian" (Egyptians). Since they came to Europe from the east, it was believed that they came from Turkey, Nubia or Egypt or a whole range of other, non-European places. Among other things, they were called "Egyptians" or "Gyptians", and this is where the name "Gypsy" comes from. [2] In addition to the name "Gypsy", these peoples were known by many other names, for example Rome (Roma, Romani), Tziganes, Cigano, Gypsies, Sinti, Manouches, Gitans and many others. Most Roma have always referred to themselves by their tribal name or also as Rom or Roma, which means "human" or "people". [3] The use of Rom, Roma and Romani or written with two  "rÂ" (Rrom, Rroma, Rromani) is preferred in all official communications and legal documents. There is a tendency to abolish all derogatory, pejorative and offensive terms for them, such as "Gypsies", and to show them the respect they deserve by using the name they use for themselves, Roma or Rroma. The name "Gypsy" sounds offensive to most Roma, but it is in any case a proper name. [4] Another expression that one often comes across in the literature or in the discussion of the Gypsies is "Gadsche" (gadzo), which is used to designate the non-Roma or sedentary people. "Gadscho" literally means farmer.

Who are the gypsies?

Gypsies are not mentioned in most official censuses, and many of them do not disclose their real ethnic origin for economic and social reasons. In addition, they often move from place to place. For these reasons there is no way of knowing the exact number of gypsies in the world. In addition, those who care about these people use different criteria to determine who actually is a gypsy. Some exclude sedentary groups who, in their eyes, are no longer gypsies. Others belong to the group of gypsies as well as tribesmen who wander around in order to earn their living through their work. Nonetheless, it is estimated that there are around 17 million Gypsies scattered around the world. Almost 75% of them live in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Everything points to India as the country where the gypsies have their historical roots. “There must have been several waves of these people immigrating from India over the centuries. Historians have noted that such immigration occurred almost 1,000 years ago from Sind Province in what is now Pakistan, and that immigrants reached Western Europe in the 15th century. From that time on, there is historical evidence of their presence and participation in the social life of European society. ”[5] The reasons that led them to leave India may well remain in the obscurity of the past, although it is related to this many hypotheses exist. It was probably a combination of reasons such as poverty, famine, natural disasters, invasion, wars, etc. that drove these people from their original homeland. The same reasons drive people from their homeland to this day.

Gypsy culture and activities

There are many different traditions and customs in gypsy culture. Gypsy groups around the world each have their own religious beliefs and dogmas. There is no universal gypsy culture per se; but there are characteristics that all gypsies everywhere share, such as the feeling of togetherness in the family and the closeness to one another within the same ethnic group, certain cultural standards and norms can differ gradually from tribe to tribe, the ability to adapt to changed conditions, their marginalization, etc. Many Gypsies have settled down and their integration into the non-Gypsy culture has weakened many of the values ​​and beliefs of the Gypsy culture. Not all groups apply the same definition of who is a gypsy and what gypsy culture means. Anyone who is considered a “real Gypsy” in one group may be a Gadsche for another. It is probably a generalization and an oversimplification if we unite all gypsies in a stereotypical scheme. While some groups may believe this, there is no single group that can describe itself as the only "true" Roma. Today, the following typical features characterize all gypsy groups and communities around the world: Gypsies can be nomadic, semi-sedentary, or sedentary. They speak many Romani dialects and some don't speak Romani at all. The Gypsy language is evidence of the extraordinary diversity of the Gypsy world, i.e. the lack of rigor in their thinking, the freedom with which they adopt words and transform words that they have taken from other languages. Indeed, in some ways this explains the psychology peculiar to the Gypsies. [6] Gypsies can live in rural or urban areas. Some gypsy groups are predominantly illiterate, while other groups expect at least a minimum of reading and writing skills in the language of their host country from members of their community. [7]

Nomads around the world have been classified in different ways. One of the best classifications comes from S. P. Ruhela [8] and is based on the professions that the various groups exercise.

Your troubled story

It seems that the Gypsies have had a very turbulent history; through the long centuries they seem to have remained strangers to the people among whom they lived. They had no legal identity whatsoever in the countries they inhabited, and consequently they could be oppressed by the ruling groups with impunity. Most of Gypsy history consists of a long litany of laws, edicts, harassment, expulsions, etc., directed against them. They were accepted in most parts of Eastern Europe, although the Gypsies in Wallachia and Moldova only had the status of slaves until the mid-19th century. In these areas, the owners had all rights over them except life and death. The Wallachian legal code expressly states: "The gypsy is born a slave!" They were bartered and traded.

The fact that the gypsies were treated preferentially as victims in both Western and Eastern Europe from the 15th to the entire 18th century must be seen against the background of the emergence and consolidation of modern nation-states in Europe. Rejection of the other is an essential part of the process of forming modern states. With the collapse of the Soviet system and the Eastern European multiethnic states, processes that have to do with the formation and consolidation of nations once again dominated the picture. And again this process has the power to trigger intolerance towards others, towards those ethnic groups that are the weakest and without any defense, such as the gypsies, who easily become tragic victims of such processes. [9] In the process of nation-state formation, one or two common expressions (such as ethnicity, religion, etc.) form an axis around which the group's solidarity revolves. People who do not have these common characteristics become the threatening "others" against whom the essence of the group must be defended. The "other" group will also defend itself aggressively, and in search of a way to survive, they too will reinforce group solidarity. In other words, if others unite against us, then we have to be even more gypsies if we are to survive. Rejection and withdrawal are mutually reinforcing and lead to suspicion, fear and distance between the groups. The gypsy is very different from the gadscho: he suddenly appears in large numbers from nowhere, stays for a while and then he is up and away again! His life is so unpredictably linear. The gajo, on the other hand, lives in predictable slow circles. To the Gajo the gypsy seems like a refugee, a runaway, like someone who has been guilty of a strange crime; otherwise why would he run away!

When the ruling culture is confronted with a new minority culture, it cannot understand it; it will classify the minority culture in the social categories that structure its own worldview. Thus the gypsy is classified as a "vagabond"; Vagabonds are close to the muggers who cheat and rob the settled people. The gypsy is considered responsible for everything that goes wrong in the neighborhood. Ancient fears of the mysterious and the unknown, which puzzles the ruling group, are soon pinned to these unknown people who suddenly appear out of nowhere in the neighborhood, and who then disappear just as suddenly and without a goal for unknown reasons. The gypsies are said to have spiritualism and sorcery. How easily such fears and prejudices can combine with racist ideas and with the socio-economic and political crisis of a nation and discharge themselves against a minority that is made the scapegoat for all evils present! The racism of the Nazis, for example, robbed the gypsies as well as the Jews of their legal protection. The gypsies were beyond the law. Gabriele Tyrnauer recently wrote: “The rest followed: forced sterilization, deportation and slave labor, extermination camps, they became victims of medical experiments and finally mass extermination by the bullet of gas. [10] It is estimated that 500,000 gypsies fell victim to the Nazi regime. [11]

These horrific events generated little or no public protest, as the prevailing culture everywhere viewed the gypsies as potential criminals, anti-social, enemies of humanity and dangerous strangers, insatiable beggars and parasites of society; in France, for example, the Gypsies suspected as early as 1937 to be collaborators of the "Fifth Column" and they were surrounded and monitored in camps. A law from 1912 had already labeled the gypsies as potential criminals, whose profiles had always been registered in the police files. At the age of two, the fingerprints of a gypsy child were recorded in police files and any movement of the family from one town to another was the subject of police checks on their departure and on arrival. I am not saying this to make one country worse than the others. This law, which was only abolished in 1969, is representative of the treatment that the gypsies everywhere received from the law. Therefore, a tragedy that struck this group did not arouse any sympathy among the Gadsche. The Gadsche felt that the gypsies deserved what happened to them.

Even after the Second World War, the situation of the Gypsies did not change; they were still subject to the same opposition as before. This is clearly visible geographically in the settlements of the gypsies, which were deliberately located in certain parts of the city or on the outskirts not far from the garbage dumps where the gypsies looked for waste and where they lived in very unsanitary conditions. Police controls monitored them through repeated checks and labeled them as dangerous, even if they did not have a criminal record of any kind. They were second class citizens. They were dependent on the Gadsche for their work.

Traditionally, the gypsies worked in non-agricultural activities; they carried on a trade and met the needs of the Gadjes in order to earn a living. The Gadsche produced institutional and cultural norms for themselves through their private land ownership and the social and state structures associated with it. The gypsy communities did not create any institutions that had anything to do with private land ownership. They were never bound to a specific area and therefore had little interest in buying land. This may be one of the reasons why they tend to consume immediately rather than save. [12]

Today, only a fraction of Gypsies are truly nomads, and even after adopting a more sedentary lifestyle, Gypsies largely retained their geographic mobility, with horse-drawn carts being replaced by cars and / or mobile homes. They continued to offer the Gadsche their special services (blacksmith, musical entertainment, collecting and processing wood and other raw materials and, more recently, the reuse of materials). But with the onset of industrialization, the large agricultural communities became fewer and fewer. The gypsies and the agrarian society no longer complemented each other as they used to. The demand for Gypsy services decreased dramatically over time. Since they did not own any land and had no agricultural experience or culture, the gypsies increasingly provided cheap labor in heavy industry, which grew rapidly during the socialist era and then collapsed. Unemployment, poverty and social exclusion, which are evident in many Gypsy societies, have their historical roots here. [13]

In general, the Gypsies are very skeptical about property accumulation; their lifestyle is more provisional and is heavily characterized by low savings and high current expenses. This hand-to-mouth way of life is also a consequence of poverty. Saving and investing are not possible if the income only ensures survival. This means that decisive changes in the lifestyle of the Gypsies are only possible with a decisive improvement in their standard of living. [14]

The gypsies in India

Your estimated number

At the time of the terrible earthquake in Gujarat in 2001, it was said of a group of people: "They have lost nothing, at least not from the collapse of houses and buildings." This was a nomadic tribe called the Rabbari you can easily see them on national and regional main roads. The caravans of their camels trot in a row along the streets and their herds slowly follow a little deeper in the adjacent fields, even when the hot sun burns down on everything in the afternoon. Children, belongings, the sick sheep or lamb or even sometimes the tired dog ride on the hump of the camel in upturned charpai (a bedstead woven from ropes). [15] This is just one of the thousands of different ideas about these people that fill the Indian countryside and its suburbs. A quick look at the meager material available on the Gypsies in India is very confusing. According to some research, there are about 3 million gypsies and fewer than 120 communities of nomads in India. [16] Other estimates, as mentioned above, assume 8 million gypsies in India. Still others estimate their number at 15 million. [17] Some others, including many nomadic and semi-settled groups, speak of about 150 million gypsies. [18] One thing is certain: there is no certain number in India when it comes to gypsies, whether they are settled or not.

The socio-economic situation of the gypsies[19]

The life of the gypsies has been compared to the unrestricted freedom of the wild parrots or animals in the jungle. Contrary to these idyllic ideas, the life of the nomads in India is basically just a struggle for survival. The Indian population comprises large groups of socially disadvantaged people, numbering in the millions! For centuries the people belonging to this socially neglected class have lived lives of oppression, being neglected and isolated, which has made them so weak that they are now unable to keep up with national progress.

Although India has made tremendous strides over the past five decades, the country has failed to evenly distribute the wealth it created among the people of the country. Huge and growing inequalities have emerged between the rich and the poor, and who most suffers, these are groups like the gypsies, who are at the bottom of the social stratification. The Indian constitution has assured that the interests of the socially and scholastically disadvantaged classes will be guaranteed and a list of registered castes and registered tribes has been prepared. At the time it was perhaps not clear to the fathers of the constitution that the underprivileged sections of the Indian population were far too large, too diverse, and too heterogeneous to be included in the narrow categories of registered castes and / or registered tribes all together. The result was that almost all welfare programs were for the registered castes and registered tribes, and a number of ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities, including a significant portion of the general population, were badly neglected. The effect of these two factors, increasing poverty and government neglect, hit the Gypsies of India particularly hard.

The beliefs of most of these nomadic groups are folk, pious, and tradition-based; although the more fundamentalist Hindu groups would claim to be of the Hindu religion, it can be seen that these nomadic groups are more nature-worshipers than animists are considered Hindus. [20] Some groups, such as the Kalenders, have joined Islam, but their beliefs are not very exclusive because they also worship the Godmen of other religions. [21] Semi-settled tribes such as the Bhils, Oraons, Gonds, Santhals etc. have converted to Christianity in large numbers. Various groups of Protestants, like the Catholic Church, have quite large congregations among these peoples. [22]

Try to improve the living conditions

There have been a few sporadic attempts to improve the lot of the gypsies in India, but without great success. Time and again, the governments of individual states have taken measures to improve the living conditions of gypsy groups.

On the whole, the improvement efforts were a failure in the end. It is felt that the planners and organizers of these programs for the Gypsies were misguided by the myth of the existence of a "nomadic instinct" among the nomads, and they have failed to understand that there are strong economic motives that lead the nomads to travel. [23] The improvement efforts have tended to sedate these peoples without really trying to understand them and their real needs. When it comes to really helping these nomadic peoples, the proposed solution is always the same for all groups and in all geographical areas. The classic solution is to provide free land or land in subsidized form, to enable cheap loans for house building, to help with the acquisition of livestock, plowing, etc., the creation of cooperative credit companies and centers, training and production with one another unite.

These wise provisions of the committee shed light on some of the principles to be considered in any program for improving the living conditions of nomads.

However, such efforts on the part of the government and other groups are too rare to have any real impact on the life of the Gypsies as a whole in this country. that you can get somehow and that as soon as possible.

The Church and the Gypsies

The gypsies and the church in general

The experience that the gypsies have in all countries, including their country of origin, is that they have the Gadsche are suspicious and treated with caution and rejected by them; it could even be said that the Gypsy's identity is deeply shaped by this experience of rejection. The gypsy sees himself excluded from communion and the fellowship of Gadsche. The sharpest form of exclusion and rejection is justified by the fact that they are viewed as criminal, anti-social and dangerous and must therefore be kept under surveillance and kept separate from the majority of society. Too few Christians have taken the risk of building a bridge between the Gypsies and the Gadsche to build. However, it is also a fact that some of the loudest voices that have been heard in favor of the Gypsies are those of some of the members of the Catholic Church who have been inspired and nourished by the word that the Church proclaims. The same voices are also critical of the church because it is so far removed from groups of the poorest such as the gypsies. They believe that the mission of the Church entrusted to them is not borne by the entire Christian community and that they are too alone to overcome the abyss of rejection between them Gadschewho are part of the Church and who created the Gypsies. Historically, the Church has tended to side with the sedentary Gadsche posed. The gypsies do not feel comfortable in our churches and in the Christian assemblies. It is also not uncommon to meet clergy, religious and lay people in the service of the Gypsies who declare that they feel lonely and that their commitment is not recognized by the congregations or other clergy and religious. Their efforts to create groups for reflection in contact with the Gypsies do not often find support from other pastors and religious. These observations and experiences illuminate the gap that exists between the Gypsies and the Catholic Church.

Yet in the heart of the Church there has always been a ferment of passion and kindness towards these people. Prophetic voices have given voice to the cause of the less fortunate at all times. To give just one example, John XXIII. quoted in Pacem in Terriswhile discussing the concept of the common good, Leo XIII: "Secular power must not act for the benefit of any one or a few, for it was created for the common good of all." Pope John XXIII then went on: "Considerations, However, those concerned with justice and equality may sometimes require those who are part of secular governments to pay more attention to the less fortunate members of the community, who are less prepared to defend their rights and for their legitimate claims To get up. ”[24] In other words, the poor and less fortunate members of the community do not stand next to the rich, but come first when the common good is at stake. This is one of the fruitful principles that have always lived in the hearts of followers of Christ, even if it is not always evident. This fermentation finally found clear expression at the 2nd Vatican Council in Christ Dominus. The councilors noted that “special attention must be paid to those of the faithful who, because of their way of life, cannot make adequate use of the general and normal pastoral care of the parish priests, or who are cut off from it. These groups include the majority of migrants, exiles and refugees, seafarers, aviators, gypsies and others of the same kind ”[25] The document called on the national bishops' conferences to address the pressing problems of these people themselves.

To complement these guidelines of the Second Vatican Council, some structural instruments were put in place. In 1965 Pope Paul VI. invited the Secretariat for the Apostolate of Nomads to the Holy Congregation for Bishops to bring spiritual help to the people without a permanent residence. This International Secretariat became part of the Pontifical Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and People on the Move with Motu Proprio Apostolicae Caritatis (March 19, 1970). This commission was attached to the Holy Congregation for Bishops. She later became part of the Apostolic Constitution Father Bonus to a council of the Roman Curia with full autonomy (June 28, 1988). Article 150 of this Constitution expressly states: “The mandate of the council is to ensure that particular churches provide effective and true spiritual assistance to refugees and people in exile, by establishing appropriate pastoral structures when necessary; this also applies to migrants, nomads and circus people. ”The purpose of the above-mentioned council is to extend this service to nomads as well, ie to people, families and groups who lead a life as nomads, be it for ethnic reasons (e.g. the gypsies) be it for socio-economic reasons (e.g. circus people). It also applies to people who do not have a permanent address and who do not enjoy any pastoral care, such as the travelers in Ireland, those people in Belgium and Holland who live in mobile homes, the nomads on the river boats in Bangladesh, etc. Actually came For the first international meeting organized by the Pontifical Commission in 1975 envoys even from Africa to represent the African nomads who are not gypsies but cow and shepherds, such as the Tuaregs from the Sahara, the Masai from Tanzania and Kenya, the Pygmies from Central Africa etc. [26]

Although ecclesiastical pastoral care for the nomads is still very young, the last popes gave him the courage they wanted and assured them of their full confidence. About 38 years ago, on the occasion of the first gypsy pilgrimage, Pope Paul VI said the now famous words: “You are in Hearts of the Church. ”[27] Thirty years later, John Paul II said to all those who attended a conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and the Moving People:“ The many forms of pastoral activity, which are carried out for the gypsy groups who have an apostolic mission: in the schools of faith and the word, on national and episcopal mandates, in the chaplaincy for the gypsies and finally in the Pontifical Council for migrants and people on the move, shows how much the Church is who loves gypsies. ”[28] The Pope's words refer to the many different activities and organizations that are involved in relative formed in favor of the gypsies within the church in a very short time. In the same speech, the Pope also reminded the Church not to overlook the history of the Gypsies, especially not their tragic periods. The Pope recalled a statement he had made on the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe: “Memories of the war must not fade; instead, they should become a serious lesson for ourselves and for future generations. ”“ To forget what happened in the past can open the way to new forms of rejection and aggression. ”[29]

March 12th, 2000, was celebrated as a day of atonement. The Holy Father himself directed the believers' prayer after homily. The Pope introduced the rite, the individual parts of which consisted of an invitation followed by a moment of silence, a prayer of the Holy Father, the chanting of a triple Kyrie eleison and the lighting of a candle. One of the invitatoria was read by Archbishop Stephen Fumio Hamao, President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and People on the Move, calling for repentance for the words and attitudes caused by pride, hatred and wanting to be about others dominate, from hostility towards members of other religions and towards the weakest groups in society such as immigrants and the people on the move.The Holy Father prayed: “Christians have often denied the gospel and instead bowed to a power-dictated mentality, violated the rights of ethnic groups and peoples, and shown contempt for their cultures and religious traditions: have patience and mercy on us and give us your forgiveness ”[30] The Pope's gesture in this prayer means a confession of past mistakes of the Church, but at the same time a constant invitation to all people in the Church, themselves and their attitudes and actions towards these less fortunate ones People to consider.

In the homily that Pope John Paul II preached when he celebrated the Jubilee of Migrants and People on the Move on June 2, 2000, he affirmed the equality of Gypsies in the Church. He stated: "Since the Son of God" "pitched his tent with us", in a certain way every person has become a "place" for meeting him. "[31] And with a quote from Paul VI he stated: "For the Catholic Church nobody is a stranger, nobody is excluded, nobody is far from it." (AAS, 58 [1966], p.51-59). The Pope emphasized that although there are no strangers or guests, but only fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God (cf. Eph. 2:19), Â “Â in the world we still have an attitude of low openness and the Finding narrow-mindedness, even rejection, caused by unjustified fear and the fact that everyone feels obliged only for their own interests. These forms of discrimination cannot be reconciled with belonging to Christ and the Church. [32] The Pope underlined the far-reaching principle that relations between the Gypsies and the Gadsche should regulate: “In a society as complex as ours, which is marked by many tensions, one must join the culture of reception with wisdom and foresighted laws and norms that allow the best of the positive aspects of human mobility to make and take precautions for the possible negative aspects. This gives everyone the opportunity to be respected and accepted. ”[33] Every action in favor of migrants and people on the move must be determined by the rule:“ One must always focus on people and respect for their rights ” "(33)

The theme of this conference comes from the Fourth Apostolic Exhortation, Novo Millennio Ineunte by Pope John Paul II In this part of the Apostolic Exhortation the Pope develops a spirituality of communion. The true essence of the mystery of the Church is revealed in the koinonia (Communion) which is the result when we love others "as He loved us." The Church is a sacrament of this koinonia. In order to make the church both a home and a school, we need not only good and compassionate deeds, but a real spirituality of communion. Communion spirituality includes:

1. The ability to see the reflection of the God of Communion (the Trinity) on the faces of all our brothers and sisters.

2. The ability to see others "as part of myself" - those who are connected to me in the Mystical Body - and therefore to be able to make their joys, sufferings and desires my own .

3. The ability to see the positive in others not only as a gift given to them, but as a gift that we receive through them.

4. The ability to “know how to“ make room ”for our brothers and sisters, and“ help one another to carry the burdens ”” (Gal. 6: 2), and to withstand selfish temptations which threaten us constantly and which arouse competition, career ambition, distrust and jealousy. "[34]

According to the Pope, every program of action, every project of Christian education, the training of pastors, consecrated persons and pastors, every effort to create families and communities must be permeated and guided by this spirituality of communion, in connection with the historical distance between the gypsies and the Gadsche it is evident that any attempt to build a bridge between the two sides that is not sustained by the uplifting effect of communion spirituality is hollow.

The Gypsies and the Indian Church

In India, pastoral care for the nomads is of very young origin. The Indian Church was not closed to these people. Perhaps the majority of the faithful, especially those in the Dioceses of Mission, live in conditions which we associate with the Gypsies, so that these churches have not been able to turn their attention to smaller groups like the Gypsies. Brother Renato Rosso, a pioneer in this office in the world, has made an essential contribution to raising awareness of the nomads in the Church in India. As Pope John Paul II through the Apostolic Constitution Father bonus In 1988 he set up the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and People on the Move, he also wanted an institution at the level of the individual bishops' conferences to take care of the pastoral needs of migrants and people on the move. In order to fulfill this vision of the Pope, with the support of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and People on the Move, PACNI (Pastoral Care of Nomads in India) was founded in India in 1993. Since its beginnings in 1993, Dr. Pascal Topno, Archbishop of Bhopal, headed this pastoral undertaking. For the past two years I have been involved with this organization myself as a member of the Pontifical Committee.

PACNI tries to reach the gypsies and wishes to contact all nomad groups. It pays special attention to children and women and is used in health and education, where an increasing awareness can be felt and where spiritual help is needed. All nomad groups are religious, but some of them have very few Christians. Many Narikuravas and Lambadas belong to Protestant churches and there are many Catholics among the Bhils and Bhilalas. However, PACNI wants to reach all of these groups, regardless of their religious beliefs, because all people carry the face of God within them. PACNI calls on all people with whom this organization works, to a change of heart, to renounce violence, to mercy, love, etc. PACNI tries to preserve the humanity of these peoples, especially that of their wives and children.

PACNI has grown steadily since 1993 and the sixth national meeting and seminar took place in Khandwa from September 23-26, 2002. The approximately 100 participants came from all parts of India. We found that there are now 35 religious congregations of women participating in this mission in India. At the meeting, Archbishop Pascal Topnol announced that PACNI is now part of the Committee on Labor at the Catholic Bishops Conference in India (CBCI). The reason for joining the Labor Commission is the fact that nomads are mostly seen as workers. In India, pastoral care for the nomads is divided into the southern, central and northern regions to accommodate distances within the country. International Gypsy Day is celebrated in India on April 8th. In order to highlight this day, meetings are held in the villages, special masses are held in the communities and the pastors fight for a heightened awareness among the population for the needs of the Gypsy people. [35]

Some of PACNI's activities are novel and bearing fruit: classes are organized for the children near their parents' workplace, lessons under trees are given for the street children, volunteer doctors examine the children free of charge, the mothers are given health care planning and There are 452 non-formal schools run by pastoral workers for the gypsy children are conducted. [36]

Some of the problems with which the gypsies in India are directly concerned are hunger and discrimination by society, in schools and in public, the lack of even the most basic of facilities, political disregard, being labeled as criminals, and child labor , the lack of education in the children, preventing them from being enrolled on the electoral roll, thereby challenging their right to citizenship. All of these violations can be grouped into four groups: i) Basic needs; ii) basic discrimination, iii) violence and iv) lack of awareness. PACNI endeavors to solve these problems in the following ways: through personal contacts, through an investigation of the situation and an accurate identification of the problems, through defense and representation, through raising awareness of the problems, through the use of the media strengthening gypsy men and women by working with NGOs who share the same ideas, etc. [37]

Scripture inspirations for a spirituality between gypsies and communion Gadsche

The alien dignity of people

The Bible speaks of man essentially in relation to God. Man is an echo of the word of God: “Let us create a man in our own image, who is like us” So God created man in his image; he created him in the image of God. And he created man and woman. ”(Gen 1, 26:27) Like the rest of creation, man is made of the Word of God. But man has a special role in creation because he is his image, an icon of God. His form, his life and his image, his being man and woman come from God.His fundamental dignity is not in what he has achieved or accomplished, but in the fact that he is a gift from God. Hence, his dignity is an "alien dignity". Man is God's eyeball; whoever touches him touches God. Every human koinonia must be based on this premise if it is to be feasible and Christian. If the transcendent dimension is not recognized, then the person can become an object dominated by the selfishness and ambition of another person or of a totalitarian state.

The diversity of people

In the first few pages the Bible recognizes the differences and tensions that exist between people with different ways of life; Genesis tells us that Abel was a sheep farmer and Cain was a farmer who worked the land. (Gen 4,2) In connection with our subject we cannot avoid seeing a similarity between these two brothers in the Bible and the two kinds of people who are the subject of our considerations: the gypsies and the Gadsche. The story tells of the different ways of life of the two brothers without criticizing the differences. Yet the story insists that whatever the differences between us, what happens between us is important to God. We cannot come into the presence of God by our own strength. God will ask us: "Where is your brother / sister?" Before God we are responsible for our brothers and sisters. Their painful calling and suffering will reach his ear and the impact on our lives will be immediate.

The pilgrim god of a strange people

The "little traditional creed" of the Israelites began with the words "A homeless Aramean was my father." (Deut. 26: 5) The experience of being a stranger or a guest was essential to the early identity of Israel. Abraham were called away to leave his family and the land of his own to become a stranger in another land. Amid the promises of God to give him descendants and land, Abraham is told: “You shall be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a land that does not belong to them, and there they will be slaves and become for four centuries they are oppressed. ”(Gen. 15:13) The concept of being a guest or a stranger was of course embedded in the covenant with God and part of what it meant to be the people of Yahweh. [38]

Right next to this theme of the identity of Israel we find another big theme, that is, the theme of the pilgrim god, who calls a group of people who are temporarily guests in a foreign land “my people” and who calls “misery” of his people in Egypt and heard their loud complaint "(Ex 3.7)" There is one thing that distinguishes this god from all the deities that were found everywhere at that time. All of these deities were tied to specific places - mountains, rivers, cities, or regions - while the God who spoke to Abraham is a God who is not tied to a specific place on earth. This God is a traveling God, a pilgrim God. ”[39] This God refuses to live in a temple or in a fixed place, for he is a God of tents, the traveling God, who is always ready, Israel to guide on his travels. (2 Sam 7, 1-7) The theme of the wandering God reappears in the New Testament. The author of the fourth gospel tells us that the word became flesh "and pitched his tent in our midst" (John 1:14)

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were guests (gerim) in the land of Canaan and later the Israelites lived as strangers in Egypt. Even when Israel finally inherits the land, God reminds the people: “The land must not be sold forever; because the land belongs to me and you are only strangers and half-citizens with me. . ”(Lev. 25:23) The Israelites had to regard themselves as resident aliens in their own land, for the land of which they were stewards and carers belonged to God, they lived in the land thanks to God's permission and grace. [ 40] During their entire stay, Israel was carried by the traveling God, "as a father carries his son" so they moved (Deut. 1:31). Their stay as a stranger and the goodness of their traveling God were so deep in the historical memory of Israel branded that they were constantly challenged that gerim to treat them well and kindly among them. Israel owed everything to Yahweh. It had to remember, even a "ger " and to be a slave in the land of Egypt. If Israel forgot and turned to idolatry and oppression again, they literally became strangers in a strange land; they became orphans and widows, without any help, without freedom, security, food or hope. [41]

Hence, the rules of the Israelites speak of the guest even before they mention the women and children. People lived as guests and as strangers with the ancient Israelites for many different reasons. But without the right to own land and dependent on maintaining themselves only through their own work, the guests lived in a very precarious situation and they were dependent on the will of the community to welcome them into their lives. Therefore the federal law admonishes: “You shall not exploit a stranger. You know how a stranger feels; for you yourself were strangers in Egypt. ”(Ex 22.21; 23.9) Just like the Levites, the widows and the orphans, the foreigners could benefit from the three-year tithing (Deut. 14.29), those who remained Gathering ears of corn in the field, picking the olives that have remained on the tree and the grapes in the vineyards. The law not only required the Israelites to remember that they had been slaves in the land of Egypt (Deut. 24: 18-22), but also requires them to love strangers for this reason. (Deut. 10:19) The parallel commandments to love one's neighbor and guest in Leviticus 19:17 and 34 seem unique and limited to Israel. [42]

But strangers were not welcomed unconditionally. If the strangers, their culture, and their gods threatened Israel's covenant obligations, identity, and unity, then Israel would have to choose the latter. So sometimes tension arose between being faithful to Yahweh and accepting strangers. Israel owed absolute loyalty and obedience to Yahweh. But part of that loyalty was also a love for the protection of strangers. Welcoming foreigners and at the same time excluding foreign elements that could undermine Israel's allegiance to Yahweh were both affirmed.

The biblical orientation quoted above requires that the concern for the physical, social and spiritual well-being of the Gypsies (migrants, refugees) should not be marginal phenomena in the life, witness and mission of Christians, but should take a central place Mission and mission, then our primary attention must be given to these vulnerable people. [43]

Biblical accounts also suggest that only those who regard themselves as strangers and foreigners are able to create a life-giving place for others, which requires distance from the dynamics of power and from the status differences of the majority society. At the same time, those who accept the attitude of strangers and foreigners appreciate "the importance of the place"; they know the value of a safe place that is rich in meaning, full of relationships and customs. So when they are "strangers" they go through the world not detached and unaffected, they are not only "passing through". They know that the world is not their home, while at the same time they create homes and communities that give life and sustain life. ”[44]

Hospitality and strangers ("Athithi" = guest) in the New Testament[45]

The tales of the birth of Jesus vividly describe to us the status of the stranger that Jesus himself had: He was born into a family that was homeless at the time and was staying in a city unfamiliar to them. He was worshiped by strangers who brought him gifts and threatened by the local leaders who tried to kill him. He and his family later found refuge in Egypt. Jesus knew the sufferings of being a stranger even among your own countrymen!

In all the Gospels, Jesus is portrayed as a stranger and a guest, a teacher who does not know where to rest his head and who nevertheless gratefully welcomes large crowds, nourishes the hungry and gives way to those who are lost . He arranged for a meal in the hills and on the lakeshore, and ate regularly with what the religious leaders called "the pack."

On the road to Emmaus, Jesus joins the pair of his disciples as a stranger and he becomes a guest in their house. When they share the meal, Jesus becomes the host and they recognize him when he breaks the bread. (Lk 24: 13-35) Likewise, Jesus unexpectedly invites himself to Zacchäus' house. Jesus describes himself as the bread of life. (Jn 6, 35-51) So Jesus is a stranger, guest, host and meal. The motive of hospitality is written in the center of the person and the mission of Jesus.

In the tradition of Christian hospitality, we have to note two important elements: The first is mentioned in Lk 14: 12-14. In connection with a feast, Jesus asks the hosts who are the preferred guests at such gatherings. Ordinary hosts will invite family, friends, and wealthy neighbors, who in turn can reciprocate the invitation. Jesus, on the other hand, selects the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind to welcome them, people who seem to have little to give back in the relationship. In reality, rewards and blessings are promised, but they come from God and such a welcome echoes the hospitality in the kingdom of God that anticipates them.

The story of the Last Judgment speaks of the second element (Mt 25, 31-46) "The sheep will be separated from the goats according to how they have treated those who are hungry, sick, naked and in prison." "[46] Our daily little acts of hospitality, especially to those who see the world as" useless "and" a burden ", are inextricably linked to our response to God and they affect our relationship with God over the long term.

These two passages have always enlivened the Christian tradition of hospitality, for they mysteriously suggest the possibility that when we welcome the “least,” we welcome Jesus himself. They extend Christian hospitality to them as well who apparently can't offer anything in return. In addition, these passages tie human hospitality to God's welcome and God's presence and reward for simple gestures of caring.

In a world of cruel ethnic prejudice and tension, vast socioeconomic differences and injustices, acts of hospitality are like "small gestures against destruction." [47] Hospitality is an important expression of appreciation and respect for those who come from the greater Society is despised or overlooked. When we eat and drink together, and when we have a conversation with people who are very different from ourselves, we make important clues to the world about who is interesting, valuable and important to us .

We have one more point to make: Christian hospitality does not mean welcoming others in a completely open space. It wants to break down barriers that exist between classes, races and peoples. But neither does it welcome people in a completely neutral space when it welcomes them to a church or to the Christian faith. We welcome others who have respect for our identity as a community of disciples of Jesus Christ, as the Church. The welcome we offer is not like the welcome of a hotel or a train station. We offer the welcome of a home, a community. Christian hospitality welcomes the other as he is; but it invites others to be touched and changed by our home, our community, our hospitality.

Certainly there is a deep tension between maintaining our identity and respectfully welcoming others into our midst; on the one hand to communicate everything that is dear to us in friendship, on the other hand to respect the rights of others. Christian hospitality must recognize this tension and accept it as a fact and deal with it in such a way that it neither disparages us nor the others those who disagree with us.

Christian hospitality is not a program, not a strategy to achieve a goal, but a way of life; there has always been the danger that hospitality becomes a means of making others what we want them to be, and they are that do what we want them to do. So Christian hospitality is not a means to an end; it is a way of life that the gospel teaches us. In the early Christian Church, Christian leaders warned believers against "ambitious" hospitality, or hospitality given in the hope of gain and gain. [48] Hospitality in circles of the "fine society" is often offered in order to gain advantages. People choose their guests carefully to be sure they are the right ones so that they may benefit from it in the future. Christ and the early Christian leaders teach us not to do this. We want our guests to be the ones who can't return us a favor. And yet Christian hospitality is full of opportunities and promises. We welcome the least of us, but they could be angels (Heb 13,2) or even Jesus himself (Mt 25).

There is always a risk that we will turn hospitality into a strategy even as part of our mission and mission; if hospitality works and if people respond we can turn the tap on, if it doesn't work we turn it off. If our welcome is just a strategy, people will quickly realize that it has been instrumentalized and used. They become victims of our programs and strategies that we drop when another group of people and programs come along that seem to be more promising. A sudden gathering of gypsies in our neighborhood may be a frightening phenomenon when we witness it from the safe and self-evident comfort of our homes, our communities, our rectories. We cannot extend Christian hospitality to these people unless we move away from the world and its institutions of status and power, unless we consciously assume the status of strangers and guests.

Christian hospitality also suggests a solution for how we can reconcile our church, our mission and our social mandate. All groups, especially disadvantaged groups like the gypsies, long for real communion; they are consumed with longing for a place to which they belong and to which they contribute. But in the course of our history we have separated our lives, our faith, our mission and our mission. We offer our church to people to pray, our educational and social work facilities to fulfill our mission and mission, but we keep ourselves away from people when they actually seek communion with us desire. In our homes we provide food and shelter but not friendship, in our schools we provide education but not camaraderie, in our hospitals we provide health care but no human care. Christian hospitality requires that we combine the personal character of a household with the more public and transforming qualities of the church. In this room, after all, God was the housekeeper and host; all who gathered there were God's guests, equals at God's table.

Even a cursory glance at the subjects of the Bible makes us realize that real communion can take place between people: i) when each person is respected as a child and in the image of God; ii) when the differences between people are viewed as a gift given to all of us; iii) when we are all in a humble relationship with one another, knowing that we are all strangers and guests; iv) when we can offer true Christian hospitality to all.

Finally: a step forward

in the Nuovo Millennio Ineunte (at the beginning of the new millennium) Pope John Paul II closes his apostolic letter with "Duc in Altum." a vast ocean opens upon which, trusting in Christ's help, we venture. ”He adds,“ There are many different ways in which each must walk in our church, but there is no distance between them are united in the same communion. "(Nuovo Millennio Ineunte n ° 58)

The gypsies are a people who need the support of the church and its pastors. The Church, as the embodiment of the Good Samaritan in the Lord's history, cannot simply pass a situation of prejudice, oppression, rejection and suffering without responding in a way that speaks to the world of the goodness of our Heavenly Father. The purpose of the pastoral care of the Church is always the development of a good person who is worthy of God and the creation of a human community that embraces the koinonia of the Triune God himself lives and proclaims. It goes without saying that pastoral care that has these goals goes beyond socio-economic agendas and programs. People in need, prejudiced and oppressed, certainly also need socio-economic and political programs to meet their most urgent and elementary needs. Parish priests and pastors need to encourage and work on such programs for these people. The pastoral care of the church for a hungry person must first satisfy his immediate need for food. But feeding him food is not the full aim of this pastoral care. Sometimes public and political pressure must be exerted on oppressive forces so that hungry people are fed and conditions are created so that they can continue to find their livelihood in the future.

These efforts can be part of the pastoral care of the Church, but pastoral care cannot be limited to that. Soci-economic programs and political processes can overthrow governments and systems; but unless and until human hearts change, there will be no real change. Newer government structures and instruments of service that are not based on a reversal of hearts will soon become even more oppressive than those that already exist. Therefore, in the case of gypsy pastoral care, the church and clergy must aim that, in addition to the socio-economic and political programs, both the gypsies and the Gadsche, enabled to regard one another as children of God who owe one another respect. They should feel solidarity for one another and acknowledge one another as members of the same family of the Father and the mystical body of Jesus Christ. They should learn to appreciate the positive aspects of each other's culture as a precious gift from God that we share as we help carry each other's burdens.They should expand Christian hospitality and recognize deeply that the earth and all its riches belong to God and that we are all strangers and guests. Centuries of caution, suspicion, and benefit burned deep into people's subconscious minds cannot simply be eradicated by socio-economic programs and political processes. The groups must be empowered koinonia to celebrate on a human, cultural and spiritual level. The UNDP report underlined that neither Roma NGOs nor Roma political parties enjoy particular trust among Roma. The Roma also do not seem to have much confidence in NGOs that are not organized by the Roma. [49] In other words, even those who work for the good of these marginalized groups are not considered trustworthy and are not accepted into the community. Creating trust at this level must be a crucial task of the Church's pastoral care for these people.

Any pastoral care that is to be meaningful for the Gypsies must primarily aim at the integration of the Gypsies into society and not at their assimilation. Integration means giving them the opportunity to participate in socio-economic life on the same level as everyone else, without that they therefore lose their identity. [50] Governments and other organizations that have tried to help these people have often tried to make them part of the majority society. Assimilation means: “Social acceptance at the price that they lose their clearly different group identity in return. Assimilation of minorities (usually ethnic minorities) generally presupposes the sacrifice of their ethnic-cultural identity in exchange for opportunities to find “access to society”. ”Assimilation is rarely successful in the short and medium term. It is all too easy for the minorities to lose elements of their diversity without thereby gaining equivalent "opportunities to access society". "[51] Programs that work towards assimilation are based on the silent assumption that the lifestyle of the minority concerned is not only different from the prevailing culture, but that it is deviant, deficient and even wrong, which is why it needs to be corrected and changed. The affected people need to be rehabilitated. This approach is very offensive and hurtful to say the least. This must never be the approach and the program of pastoral care that the Church undertakes.

Clergymen who are involved in the pastoral care of marginal groups, such as the gypsies, have a great responsibility to lead these groups to an exchange with the majority society. It is understandable that the clergy, so close to the injustices and shortages that strike these people, share the wrath of those affected. But the clergy must find spiritual sources within themselves so that in the end their mission is a mission of reconciliation and not of separation. Preferring to side with marginal groups can sometimes mean taking a stand against the ruling group. But such a position and its expression in Christian pastoral care cannot only be political. It's not just about taking advantage of public opinion and forcing the ruling group into submission; it is more about convincing the other, inviting him to a change of heart, declaring the goodness of God in a sinful situation. When it comes to pushing and nudging (sometimes quite literally!), The Christian minister should endeavor to respond in such a way that his reaction leaves an impression of goodness and divinity, an impression that will be remembered by those concerned will stay.


[1] Davindera: Socialization and Education of Nomad Children in Dehli State, (New Dehli: Regency Publications, 1997), 1.
[2] Harold J. Fontenot, "Roma / Gypsies, An Introduction" in: The World Wide Web Virtual Library, 1999.
[3] Rome, Roma, Romani and Romaniya must not be confused with the country of Romania or the city of Rome. The names clearly have independent etymological origins and have nothing to do with one another.
[4] Harold J. Fontenot, op. Cit
[5] Archbishop Stephen Fumio Hamao, "Message to the National Conference on the Pastoral Care of Nomadic People", People On The Move, Migrants, Refugees, Seafarers, Nomads, Tourists, All Itinerants XXXI (December 2000), 65
[6] André Barthélèmy, "The Gypsies" Vocation and Mission in the World and in the Church ", People On The Move, XX (September 1990), 19
[7] cf. Harold J. Fontenot, op. Cit.
[8] Ruhela, S.P., "Nomadic Tribes of the World: A Brief Survey", Jan Jagriti, Vol. 1 No. 10 (1963) quoted from Davindera, op. Cit., 3Â – 7
[9] United Nations Development Program’s Report (UNDP Report), “Avoiding the Dependency Trap”, (February 11, 2003), 18-19
[10] Quoted from Robert A. Graham, "The Other Holocaust, The True Face of Nazi Racism," in: Zingari oggi tra soria e nuove esigenze pastorali, Atti del IV Convegno Internazionale della Pastorale per gli Zingari, Rome 6-8 June 1995 (Vatican: Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and People on the Move), 38
[12] cf. UNDP report, loc. Cit., 19
[15] This is a picture painted with words of Father Xavier Pinto, Executive Director of the Labor Committee of the Catholic Bishops' Conference in India, on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with Migrant Workers on December 18, 2001
[16] Cf. For example Davindera, op. Cit., Vii
[17] cf. For example, Father Xavier Pinto in the account quoted above
[18] Cf. For example, Father Mathias Bhuriya, a tribal specialist, in a communiqué to Archbishop Stephen Fumio Hamao on August 1, 2001
[19] cf. On this section Davindera, op. Cit. 8-21
[20] Mathias Bhuriya, "Pastoral Care of the Tribal Nomads in India, With Special Reference to the Bhils in Central an Western India." A work presented at the Fourth International Meeting and Seminar for Nomad Pastoral Care in Chennai; in: Pastoral Care of Nomads in India (No 5, October 2000), 9
[21] Ruhela, S.P., op. Cit. 8-9
[22] Mathias Bhuriya, op. Cit., 10
[24] John XXIII., Pacem in Terris, P.56
[25] Vatican II, Christ Dominus, P. 18
[26] Cf. The conference of Mons. Anthony Chirayath on the occasion of the international meeting for the pastoral care of nomads in Rome on Thursday, November 29, 2001. Cf. Also Velasio De Paolis, "La Pastorale dei Migranti e le sue Strutture secondo i Documenti della Chiesa," People on The Move, Migrants, Refugees, Seafarers, Nomads, all Itinerants, XXXIV (December 2001), 134
[27]L'Osservatore Romano, No. 26 (weekly edition in English dated June 28, 1995), 5
[30]L'Osservatore Romano, No. 12 (English language weekly edition of March 22, 2000), 4
[31]L'Osservatore Romano, No. 25 (weekly edition in English dated June 7, 2000), 3
[34] John Paul II Novo Millennio Ineunte (Vatican, Linbreria Editrice Vaticana), p.43
[35] Mgr. Anthony Chirayath, Report of the VI National Meeting and Seminary of PACNI, " People on the Move, Migrants, Refugees, Seafarers, Nomads, All Itinerants, XXXIV (December 2002), pp. 225-227
[38] Christine D. Pohl, "Biblical Issues in Mission and Migration," Missiology, Vol XXXI, number 1, (January 2003), 5
[39] Brother John of Taize, The Pilgrim God: A Biblical Journey, (Washington D.C., Pastoral Press, 1985), 13th quoted from Missiology, Vol. XXV, Number 2 (April 1997), 134
[40] Christine D. Pohl, loc. Cit., 5
[42] Hans Walther Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975), 188
[43] Christine D. Pohl, loc. Cit., P.8
[45] Cf. On this section ibidem, pp. 7-13
[46] Richard B. Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament, A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics, (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996), 464
[47] Philip Hallie, Let Innocent Blood Be Shed, (New Zork. HarperPerennial, 1994), 85
[48] ​​Cf. For example John Chrysostom, "Homily 20 on I Corinthians", A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series, ed. by Philip Schaff (Buffalo and New Zork: Christion Literature Company, 1886-1890), Vol. 12, 117. Quoted from Christine D. Pohl, op. cit., 11
[49] UNDP report, loc. Cit., 82
[50] Cf. UNDP report, loc. Cit., P. 16