November 18, 2013

The president of the French bishops’ conference criticized his country’s attitudes to Roma and migrants and urged the Catholic Church to lead the way in upholding “fraternity, justice and solidarity” with the poorest.

“People of Bulgarian and Romanian origin have come to live in our country, and for several years now, we’ve seen no policy offered other than of refusing acceptance to the greatest number,” said Archbishop Georges Pontier of Marseilles.

“Destroying a shantytown can be justified on grounds of evident hygiene.

But is destroying it so urgent, when this means abandoning those who’ve sought a temporary family refuge there to a new life of wandering with no prospects?” he asked in a Nov. 5 address to the bishops.

Pontier said many Roma and migrants were ready to learn French and integrate with society.

He said that even those “behaving reasonably and peacefully” were left prey to acts of violence and “hateful, unrestrained remarks.”