Where are the Media When the Pope Talks about Roma?

Published: 12 June 2014

Region: Europe

PopeFrancis1Media love the new Pope, covering avidly all his actions and words which is not at all like the relationship we are used to having with the Papacy.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that last week media overflowed with the Pope’s decision to dismiss the entire board of the Vatican’s financial regulator aiming to reform the city-state’s banking practices. The same day though when journalists went crazy covering this story, they totally ignored the speech of the Pontiff in the Vatican regarding Roma people.

Pope Francis spoke up for the first time for the Roma community and the injustice they face, and raised awareness about discrimination against them. “I remember many occasions here in Rome where I would get on the bus and some Gypsies would get on too, and the driver would say: ‘Keep an eye on your wallets’. This is scorn; it might be true, but it’s scorn,” he said. He added that “Among the factors which create situations of poverty for a section of the population in today’s society, we can identify the lack of educational structures, both cultural and professional; the fraught access to healthcare, discrimination in the workplace, and a lack of dignified housing”.

Despite the fact that Roma people comprise Europe’s largest ethnic minority and they are one of the main victims of discrimination and social exclusion in the continent, very few media reported on this symbolic statement by the religious leader. In English, only the Guardian and news websites dedicated to the Vatican covered the speech. On the contrary, it seems that when negative news emerge about Roma people such as the alleged abduction of a baby girl in Greece, media were more than eager to cover the story.

Italy was the only country where the Pope’s call for solidarity has been widely covered. In their reports many Italian newspapers have also included the comment of the Federation of Roma and Sinti which thanked the Pope but also asked him not to call them “Gypsies” but “Roma” as the first one is considered to be a derogative term.