Pope visit a sign of inclusion for Slovakia’s excluded Roma

KOSICE, Slovakia (AP) — Pope Francis is heading to the far east of Slovakia to meet with the country’s Roma people. Francis’ visit to the Lunik IX settlement is a gesture of inclusion for the most socially excluded minority group in Slovakia, who have long suffered discrimination, marginalization and poverty. The visit is one of the highlights of his four-day pilgrimage to Hungary and Slovakia. Lunik IX is the biggest of about 600 shabby, segregated settlements where the poorest 20% of Slovakia’s 400,000 Roma live. Most lack basics such as running water or sewage systems, gas or electricity. This is Francis’ first foreign trip since undergoing intestinal surgery in July and marks the restart of his globetrotting papacy after a nearly two-year coronavirus hiatus.