Cardinal Peter Turkson delivered face masks and care packages over the weekend to Romani families in need on the outskirts of Rome on behalf of Pope Francis.
“We are here today to witness the support for all those who experience situations of suffering and vulnerability, and who are often forgotten, especially in this time of health, social and economic emergency,” Cardinal Turkson said following the visit on June 13.
“As Pope Francis often repeats, no one should be left behind,” he said.
Cardinal Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, met with volunteers of a non-profit association that provides 200-300 weekly food packages for the children who live in Romani camps and slums. The cardinal then visited a Romani camp outside of Rome in Castel Romano to help deliver some of the food packages.
The Romani, often called “gypsies” and known as “travelers” in much of Europe, form a marginal and minority people present in countries across the continent.
Pope Francis has met with members of Rome’s Romani community on several occasions, continuing a tradition of Pope Paul VI who visited a Romani camp near Rome in 1965.
The risk of malnutrition among the Romani children in the camps was heightened by the coronavirus pandemic, a statement from the Dicastery for the Integral Human Development said.
Turkson distributed 300 vinyl gloves, 600 surgical masks, 200 fabric masks, and 500 packs of acetaminophen donated by the Vatican Pharmacy as a part of the dicastery’s Vatican commission for COVID-19.
The Vatican commission for COVID-19, created at the request of Pope Francis, was formed “to express the concern and love of the Church for the whole human family in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, above all through the analysis and reflection on the socio-economic and cultural challenges of the future and the proposal of guidelines to face them.”
During his visit to the Romani community, Cardinal Turkson communicated Pope Francis’ feeling of spiritual closeness and paternal embrace in this difficult time to all of the volunteers, families, and children at the camp, acccording to a June 13 press statement issued by the Dicastery.