Pope Francis has apologised to the Roma people on behalf of the Catholic Church during his visit to Romania.
At a meeting with Roma people on the last day of his visit to the country, the pontiff asked forgiveness for “all those times in history when we have discriminated, mistreated or looked askance at you”.
Roma people have faced persecution in Europe for centuries.
Hundreds of thousands are thought to have been killed during the Holocaust.
Nowadays Roma lives mainly in southern and central Europe and makeup about 10% of Romania’s total population. They complain they struggle to get work because of discrimination, and many live in poverty.
“I ask forgiveness – in the name of the Church and of the Lord – and I ask forgiveness of you,” Pope Francis said in the central town of Blaj.
“Indifference breeds prejudices and fosters anger and resentment,” the pontiff said. “How many times do we judge rashly, with words that sting, with attitudes that sow hatred and division!”