Traveller and Roma Audience with Pope Francis

Hundreds of Irish Travellers from Dublin, Cork, Galway, Belfast, Cavan, Navan and all over England & Wales joined thousands of Roma in St. Peter’s Basilica for a special papal audience on Bank Holiday Monday (26th of October).

The Irish group were preparing from 4.50am and left the hotel to begin queuing in St. Peter’s Square from shortly after 8am.

Roma musicians, choirs & dancers created a wonderful atmosphere in advance of the Pope appearing.  There was a frenzy to get a good seat and position to try and shake the hand or touch the Pope.

A Serbian woman made a passionate speech about the treatment of Roma in Serbia. The Pope was clearly moved by her testimony.

He delivered a speech in Italian which was a bit frustrating for the Irish delegation as we could not understand the content.  We were told that he delivered a strong statement about the need for inclusion measures for Roma & Travellers in society as well as in the Church.

He challenged racism, discrimination & Xenophobia. He spoke of the need for Roma & Travellers to have political representation & be vigilant about their portrayal in the media.

He was later quoted as saying: “We no longer want to see family tragedies where children die of cold or in fires”. This was very moving in light of the Carrickmines fire tragedy.

Following his speech he met representatives from different countries. The first person he blessed was Alison Nevin from Swords in Dublin who was there with her cousin Nancy Collins. The Pope also met members of the Connors family.

The audience with Pope Francis was the culmination of a journey which was organised to mark the 50th anniversary of the first Papal visit to an international gypsy camp which took place on the outskirts of Rome.

Pic: Roma musicians play in St. Peter’s Basilica.