Pope asks French pilgrims to welcome people of all origins

22nd August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday asked French pilgrims to welcome people of all origins days after France repatriated more than 200 Roma and Gypsies in a controversial crackdown.

The pope said Sunday's scriptures were "an invitation to know how to accept legitimate differences among humans, just like Jesus came to pull together men from every nation and speaking every language."

Benedict, speaking after his weekly Angelus prayer at his papal summer residence outside Rome, also invited parents to educate children in tolerance.

"Dear parents, may you be able to educate your children to universal fraternity," he told pilgrims from Paris in French.

Amid international criticism, France flew Roma and Gypsies to Romania on "a voluntary basis" on Thursday and Friday in exchange for grants of 300 euros (385 dollars) per person.

But any foreign-born Roma caught up in French President Nicolas Sarkozy's crackdown on illegal Gypsy camps who refused to take a flight will be issued orders to leave France within a month, without the handout.

The measure was harshly criticised by the Vatican's council on migrants, the French opposition and the Council of Europe.

© 2010 AFP

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