Holy See

1 Recognition of the Genocide

1.1 Recognition, official texts

The Holy See does not officially recognise the Holocaust but it has unofficially acknowledged it in several official publications, including the Genocide of the Roma. The term "Roma Holocaust" is used to refer to the Genocide of the Roma. Moreover, Roma victims are systematically included in the victims of the Holocaust.

A turning point in the relationship between the Holy See and the Roma communities was marked by the speech made by Paul VI saying that the latter were "at the heart of the Church". It ended the historical silence of the Catholic authorities regarding Roma.

In 2011, Benoit XVI invited 2000 Roma in the Vatican City to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth and 75th of the death during the Spanish civil war, of the Roma martyr Zeffirino Gimenez Malla, beatified by John-Paul II in 1997. During his speech, he recalled the tragic - and above all ignored - fate of the Roma under the Nazi era.

1.2 Data (camps locations, Remembrance places, measures etc.)

1.3 Specialised institution, commission, research centre etc., dealing with this issue

There is no specialised institution dealing with the Genocide of the Roma. However Roma issues are dealt with by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant people, in its sector "Nomads: Sinti, Roma".

S.Em. Card. Antonio Maria Vegliò, Presidente
S.E. Mons. Joseph Kalathiparambil, Segretario
Rev. P. Gabriele Ferdinando Bentoglio, C.S., Sotto-Segretario
Palazzo San Calisto
00120 Vatican City
Telephone: (+ 39) 06 698 87 131
Fax: (+ 39) 06 698 87 111

1.4 Official initiatives (campaigns, actions, projects, commemoration days, museums)

Although the Holy See is the central government of the Catholic Church, it does not manage the activities of local Catholic churches, which are independently responsible for organizing education and remembrance initiatives related of the Holocaust. This means that it is up to each individual church to undertake concrete measures for Holocaust remembrance. For that reason, the Holy See has not established a memorial day to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and has no plans to do so. Yet it commemorates the Genocide perpetrated by the Nazi on 27th January.

Although the Holy See has not designated a day to commemorate the Holocaust, Pope Francis has repeatedly expressed his concerns regarding anti-Semitism. In particular, during a speech to the Roman Jewish community on 11th October 2013, the 70th anniversary of the deportation of Jewish people from Rome to Auschwitz, he stated that no Christian can be an anti-Semite, and spoke out against anti-Semitism and intolerance. In addition, during a visit to Israel in May 2014, the Pope also visited Yad Vashem to commemorate and pray for the victims of the Holocaust.

The Genocide of the Roma is mentioned as the “Forgotten Holocaust” in the presentation document “Children of the wind” of the Pontifical Council of the Pastoral Care for Gypsies 30th June – 3rd July 2003: The Genocide of the Roma (Roma Holocaust) is evoked in the 5th World Congress of the Pastoral Care for Gypsies in Budapest, Hungary, in several documents:

"The Nazi racism, for example, stripped the Gypsies of legal protection, as it did the Jews. The Gypsies were outside legal procedures. According to a recent writer, Gabrielle Tyrnauer, “The rest followed: forced sterilization, deportation to slave labour and extermination camps, victimisation by medical experiments and, finally, mass annihilation with bullets or gas.”[10] It is estimated that 500,000 Gypsies fell victim to Nazi Racism. [11] In the same discourse, the Pope reminded the church not to overlook the history of the Gypsies, especially its tragic phases. The Pope recalled a statement he had made at the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe, “The memories of the War must not grow dim; rather, they ought to become a stern lesson for our generation and for generations yet to come.” “To forget what happened in the past can open the way to new forms of rejection and aggression.”[29] Archbishop Stephen Fumio Hamao, President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, called for repentance of words and attitudes caused by pride, by hatred, by the desire to dominate others, by enmity towards members of other religions and towards the weakest groups in society such as immigrants and itinerants. The Holy Father prayed, “…Christians have often denied the Gospel, yielding to a mentality of power, they have violated the rights of ethnic groups and peoples, and shown contempt for their cultures and religious traditions: be patient and merciful towards us and grant us your forgiveness…” [30]. The Pope’s prayerful gesture stands both as an act of acknowledgment of past wrongs in the Church and as a constant invitation to all in the Church to examine themselves as to their attitudes and actions towards these less fortunate people."
2 Teaching about the Genocide of the Roma

2.1 Inclusion of the topic in the school curriculum

The Holy See does not have school curriculum.

2.2 Inclusion of the topic in the school textbooks

2.3 Training of teachers and education professionals

2.4 Particular activities undertaken at the level of education institutions

2.5 Remembrance day

3 Official contacts and resource persons

3.1 Responsible person in the Ministry of Education

3.2 Resource persons - list of experts and historians

4 Initiatives of the civil society

4.1 Relevant projects having a real impact on the people and/or the wide public

Since 2010, the Italian organisation Sant’Egidio community has been leading a project called Young European people for a world without violence - 1000 young people in Auschwitz". The idea is to send 1000 young people to attend a commemoration with Holocaust and Porrajmos survivors.

5 Point of view of the Roma community - including survivors' testimonies