VATICAN CITY -- Centuries-old discrimination against Gypsies can be overcome with initiatives to encourage education and integration coupled with a desire to reach out to others, a Vatican official said.
Archbishop Antonio Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, said the church has been working to help create the structures and the environment that will "change the minds of people within and outside the church" regarding nomadic peoples known as Gypsies.
At a book fair specializing in social issues in Grottaferrata, south of Rome, Archbishop Veglio said April 15 that Gypsies have suffered isolation and persecution throughout history.
He said that within the pontifical council, the term Gypsy, sometimes a pejorative and offensive to nomadic people, is used because it can include nomadic peoples around the world. The terms Roma and Sinti refer more specifically to the nomadic populations in Europe, he explained.
Integration has been difficult because of rejection by local populations as well as fear of absorption and loss of identity on the part of the Gypsy people, Archbishop Veglio said.