Yesterday Chiara, FMA novice, was driving me to Castel Gandolfo for mass in her community, when we saw, on the almost empty road of Christmas morning, a family with three children sitting by the roadside, and a car parked at some distance. We hesitated, and then Chiara: shall we go back to see? and I: ok. We found a way to turn back, and the family turned out to be a Rom family. they said they were ok, were waiting for a bus, but buses were few Christmas morning, and could we give them a lift. Which we did, bundling all 5 of them into the backseat. They did not have to go far, were happy to get off somewhere up the road, and were very happy and did not even ask for anything.
How to be brothers and sisters to the Rom community is a big question. Is it just a question of helping the children to go to school? This has perhaps been tried, without great success. Here, as in every case, I think respect would demand that we work with the community rather than with individuals, and organically rather than through sporadic interventions, even though charity will always call for such interventions at certain moments. The community has to decide about its future. And it has to know that it is respected, and that it has brothers and sisters when it needs them. Utopian? Perhaps. Or else, just simple participation and empowerment. Or, even more simply, just what God does with us: he loves us, and refuses to impose his love on us.
But what I liked above all was Chiara's courage and decisiveness: on a Christmas morning, on the way to mass, she did not hesitate to turn back, stop, ask.