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Pope calls for 'integration' in visit to Slovak Roma

"Marginalising others accomplishes nothing"

14 September, 18:50
(ANSA-AFP) - KOSICE, SEP 14 - Pope Francis on Tuesday visited a dilapidated housing estate inhabited by ethnic Roma in eastern Slovakia, calling for "integration" for the marginalised community. The 84-year-old Argentine pontiff, who is on his first foreign trip since a colon operation in July, often calls for assistance to the world's poorest communities. After hearing from Roma at the Lunik IX estate in Kosice, the pope told members of the community that "all too often you have been the object of prejudice and harsh judgements". "Marginalising others accomplishes nothing. Segregating ourselves and other people eventually leads to anger. The path to peaceful coexistence is integration," he said from a podium, as residents watched from apartment blocks. "Francis, Welcome Among Us," read a sign hanging from one window. In Lunik IX, nearly 4,500 residents are squeezed into a space meant to accommodate half that number.

Many blocks have no electricity, heat, gas or running water as utilities were cut because of unpaid bills. "It is great that the Holy Father is willing to come to a place where no one wants to go," Peter Besenyei, leader of the local Salesian community at Lunik IX, said ahead of the visit. (ANSA-AFP).

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