The Holy See
back up
Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples

Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of Tourism

(Nos. 1-2)

I. The Reality of Tourism Today(Nos. 3-17)

1) Tourism and Free Time (Nos. 4-5)
2) Tourism and the Person (Nos. 6-10)
3) Tourism and Society (Nos. 11-13)
4) Tourism and Theology (Nos. 14-17)

II. Pastoral Objectives(Nos. 18-30)

1) Welcome (Nos. 19-21)
2) Living Tourism in a Christian Way (Nos. 22-29)
3) Cooperation between the Church and Society (No. 30)

III. Pastoral Structures(Nos. 31-35)

1) The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples (No. 32)
2) Bishops’ Conferences (No. 33)
3) Dioceses (No. 34)
4) Parishes (No. 35)

Conclusion(No. 36)


1. The Church expressed her pastoral attention to the phenomenon of tourism in 1969 in the Directory Peregrinans in terra.[1] At that time, tourism appeared to be a launching pad with many possibilities for the advancement of persons and entire peoples. Even then, however, the Church appeared cautious with regard to various dangers that could come from a kind of tourism that did not take moral criteria into sufficient consideration.
Over the years, tourism has undergone a great development involving millions of persons and, in many ways, it has become one of the chief motors of economic activity. The expansion of tourist activity has benefited many people and whole countries, but, at the same time, it has often proven to be a source of degradation of nature and even of people. The Church’s pastoral efforts have followed these developments. In line with the indications given in the Directory Peregrinans in terra and other interventions by the Holy Father, many bishops, priests, religious and lay persons have been engaged in a creative and on-going pastoral task to fill this dimension of human life with Christian meaning.
During these past decades, many Christians have gained a more complete view of tourism and discovered both its positive and negative aspects. For many ecclesial communities, the phenomenon of tourism has ceased to be a marginal reality or cause for disturbance in their normal life and become an opportunity for evangelization and communion. Tourism could become “a factor of primary importance in building a world open to cooperation with all, through reciprocal knowledge and direct contact with different realities”.[2] Moreover, the dioceses and the Bishops’ Conferences have provided themselves with suitable pastoral structures, according to the needs in each place.
This document, which brings together all the requests and valid indications given in Peregrinans in terra and the experiences of the different local Churches, proposes to offer some reflections and pastoral criteria regarding tourism in response to the new situations.

2. Tourism today is a multi-dimensional social and economic fact that can affect people in different ways. Every year there are hundreds of millions of international and domestic tourists. Moreover, millions of persons are involved in tourism as workers, promoters and operators; still others are employed in auxiliary activities or are simply residents in tourist localities. The pastoral care of tourism is addressed to all these categories of persons.
This document is addressed to the Bishops who, in the framework of their Churches, animate and direct all pastoral action. The document is also addressed to priests, men and women religious; more directly it is addressed to the laity who are called upon to carry out evangelization activity in this specific area of social and secular reality.
It is up to all those to whom this document is addressed, each according to his or her own role, to introduce the human and Christian values proclaimed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ into tourism. (top)


3. Man’s need to move has been accentuated by the rapid development of the means of communication, a greater freedom of movement between the different states, and a more concerted juridical and social homogenization. In the past, adverse natural or social conditions drove or forced more or less numerous groups of people to change their place of residence. However, there have always been travelers who set off with the desire to meet other peoples, to make relations with other cultures, and to get a more global view of reality. These are examples of what modern man has sought first through educational voyages and then through present-day tourism.
In the varied world of mobility, tourism is specifically defined as an activity that is carried out during one’s free time. It is now a social convention to consider a tourist voyage any move outside of one’s usual place of residence for a period of more than twenty-four hours and less than a year, which is not aimed at carrying out any paid activities in the place of arrival. In other situations, the reason for a voyage can also become compatible with typically tourist activities, such as in the case of business travel, workers organized in international firms, participants in congresses and formation activities, sportsmen, and workers in the world of entertainment. And so tourism offers a broad range of motivations and forms. Reference to free time and to its meaning directed towards human development remains the criterion for evaluating and assessing the practice of tourism.

4. Today in particular the phenomenon of tourism attracts attention first of all because of the dimensions it has attained and the prospects for its expansion. In the mid-twentieth century, when tourism became accessible to many in the industrialized countries, there were approximately 25 million international tourists; since then, this figure has grown to 698 million in the year 2000. Even greater growth is recorded in tourism within the national territory of individual countries. For the year 2020, approximately 1.6 billion international arrivals are expected for reasons of tourism.[3] The tourist industry has turned into one of the chief economic forces in the whole world, and it holds first place in some countries.
The dynamic and growing aspect of tourism has been accompanied by an innovative and creative force whereby the offers have become increasingly responsive to peoples’ needs and desires. Today tourism presents a great variety of forms and constitutes a manifold and constantly changing reality.
At the same time, however, tourist activity displays negative aspects. The persons who promote it or take advantage of tourism often use it for their own illicit purposes, in some cases as an instrument of exploitation, and in others as an occasion for aggression against persons, cultures or nature. This is not surprising if we consider that tourism is not an isolated reality; it is an integral part of our civilization and reproduces both its positive and negative dynamics.
To outline and offer a basis for a correct Pastoral Care of Tourism, it is necessary to be as fully aware as possible of the phenomenon. This document does not presume to offer an analysis of this kind, nor would it be possible. However, it does seem necessary to call attention to some primary aspects. In this sense, four points should be stressed: the nature of free time and its role in the lives of men and women today; the importance of tourism for the person; the influence of tourism on the whole of society; the reflection on tourism guided by the Word of God. (top)

1. Tourism and Free Time

5. Work and rest mark the natural rhythm of human existence. Both are necessary for a person’s life to develop in its essential aspects inasmuch as both constitute areas of authentic creativity.
In the history of humanity, work has always been experienced as a distressing need, and working conditions have often been pitiful and even violent. The process leading to an improvement in these conditions has been long; and although it has accelerated in modern times, its benefits only reach a part of humanity. Because of the most recent technological advances, not only working conditions have changed, but also the nature of work itself, bringing substantial transformations in people’s lives. One of the most significant changes is precisely the greater availability of free time.
“Weekends” and paid vacations have contributed in a special way to increasing free time. Moreover, in people’s lives today, free time occupies a very important area during their youth and at the end of their working life, two periods that have become considerably longer.
It must be reaffirmed that such free time is not accessible to everyone, and millions of persons around the world, in the developed countries as well, do not have free time or the economic and cultural means to live it as a real opportunity.

6. It should also be noted that the greater availability of time still seems insufficient to satisfy what society proposes, such as formative or social activities or for rest and well-being, or to take into consideration the growing amount of information that is often essential to ensure a person’s full integration and participation in society. This gap between the time that is really available and the time one would like to have produces a state of anxiety that inevitably has repercussions on family and social relations.
In any case, work continues to be the basis for a person’s integration and participation in society as well as the foundation of family life,[4] and the condition for realizing the “fundamental truth that man, created in the image of God, shares by his work in the activity of the Creator”.[5] Together with work, however, free time appears more and more like a possibility for personal realization and a space for creativity, a right that contributes to a person’s full dignity.
Before this consideration of free time, the concept of rest should not be lost. It is a need present in human nature that manifests an unrenounceable value in itself. The meaning of rest, in fact, is not just the need to recover from the toil of work. Its real meaning is grasped when in rest man dedicates his time to God, recognizes Him as his Lord and Sanctifier, and dedicates himself generously to the service of others, especially his family. The concept of free time, on the other hand, stresses a person’s autonomy and efforts at self-realization, dimensions that can achieve their fullness only in fidelity to God the Creator and Savior.
There are many means available for living free time in a truly positive way: some aid rest, contribute to physical recovery or to perfecting personal skills. Some act to the benefit of the person’s individual dimension; others the social dimension. Some are on-going while others are sporadic. Hence reading, cultural and festive events, sports and tourism have become part of daily life, as an expression of free time itself. All those who can take advantage of free time should strive to discover all its human dimensions and use it responsibly, while making efforts so all men will be able to fully enjoy this fundamental right as soon as possible. (top)

2. Tourism and the Person

7. Rest constitutes one important reason why people try to have free time, and it is also the most common reason for engaging in tourism. A voyage and a more or less extended stay in a place different from one’s usual place of residence predispose people to take a break from work and other obligations that are part of social responsibilities. Rest thus takes on the form of a parenthesis in normal life.
There is a danger that rest may be considered a time for doing nothing. Certainly this conception does not correspond to the anthropological reality of rest. In fact, rest consists principally in regaining the full personal equilibrium that normal living conditions tend to destroy. Therefore, just stopping all activity is not enough; certain conditions must also be created in order to regain one’s equilibrium.
Tourism can facilitate these conditions not only because it involves going away from one’s residence or usual environment, but also because through many activities, it makes new experiences possible. These reinforce a person’s harmonious and integral understanding both through a new contact with nature and a more direct knowledge of the artistic and monumental heritage, and through more human relations with other persons.

8. Tourist activity has a very close relation with nature. Immersed in a daily life dominated by technology, tourists wish to have direct contact with nature, to enjoy the beauty of landscapes, to learn about the habitat of animals and plants, even by subjecting themselves to effort and risks. Nature basically constitutes the ideal place for starting and developing tourism.
Greater ecological awareness is transforming man’s relations with nature. In St. Francis of Assisi’s example,[6] people should become accustomed to seeing a brother and a sister in everything in creation in order to go back to the Creator and say: “Praise to you , O Lord, with all your creators”.[7]
An objective perception of the limited resources and their distribution caused by many human activities, together with greater awareness of the kinds of equilibrium and greater appreciation for natural diversities are making a code of conduct necessary which tourism must adopt, almost as a condition for its survival. Moreover, its particular relation with those environments that have proven to be ecologically more vulnerable – islands, coasts, mountains, forests – imposes a specific responsibility on tourism which must be taken on jointly by promoters, operators, tourists and local communities.
New proposals for tourism and new habits have thus emerged which should be encouraged for their formative and human character. Direct knowledge about nature through voyages for discovering its wonders, exercising respect for nature’s equilibrium through a simpler kind of tourism, and the more personalized contact with nature made possible by tourism in smaller groups, such as in rural tourism, are changing in a positive way the daily habits of people who are constantly allured by consumerism.

9. A tourist voyage often comes about through interest in other peoples’ cultures. Tourism offers the possibility for direct knowledge and dialogue without intermediaries, which enable the visitor and the visited to discover the wealth of their respective patrimony. This cultural dialogue, which favors peace and solidarity, constitutes one of the most precious values derived from tourism.
In preparing for their voyage, tourists should get ready for this encounter by looking for appropriate documentation that will help them understand and appreciate the country they plan to visit. They should be informed about the artistic patrimony, history, customs, religion and social situation of the people they will meet. In this way, the dialogue that begins will be sustained by respect for persons, be a living place of encounter, and avoid the risk of transforming culture into a mere object of curiosity.
On its part, the local community should present its artistic patrimony and culture to tourists with a clear awareness of its own identity, thereby promoting synergies that every authentic dialogue generates. To invite tourists to know its culture implies the commitment to live it deeply and to protect it jealously. The rapid homogenization of customs and ways of life that is taking place in the whole world often goes to the detriment of the equal dignity that should be recognized in different civilizations. Tourism should not become an instrument of dissolution or destruction, almost like an invitation to the local communities to imitate everything that is foreign with the risk of compromising their own values out of unjustified feelings of inferiority or economic interests. In fact, just as it is useful for tourists to obtain documentation prior to their voyage, so it is also necessary for the local community to present its cultural patrimony in an authentic way to tourists through appropriate information and guides, and with ample possibilities for taking active part in its own way of life.
An authentic dialogue will contribute, among other things, to conserving and giving greater value to entire people’s artistic and cultural patrimony, also through generous economic support.

10. In the varied world of tourism, some situations come about that take on a particular value in themselves and reveal certain human values.
This is the case, for example, with “weekends”. They offer the opportunity for brief trips, almost always in the nearby geographic area, and considerably favor the development of domestic tourism. This is a readily accessible and common experience that provides the possibility to discover one’s own cultural and spiritual roots. The same takes place in trips motivated by local celebrations that contribute in a special way to bringing families together and strengthening inter-personal ties.
Forms of tourism are also spreading for groups of people of the same age. Just think of tourism for youth which is carried out to a good extent in the framework of educational activity. These voyages favor learning group living and discovering other peoples’ cultures during particularly significant moments in life. On other occasions the goal is to take part in sports events, festivals or other mega-events. The displays of violence that sometimes accompany these events ought to urge young people to exercise their sense of responsibility with regard to respect and living together.
The elderly also have many occasions to engage in tourism thanks to the socio-economic conditions that permit many appropriate activities after retirement. Tourism offers them the opportunity to have the knowledge and experiences which were not possible in other periods of life. For the elderly, tourism, when properly configured, can become a means to rejuvenate their awareness of their active role in society, to stimulate their creativity, and expand their horizons in life.
Lastly, the tourism sector is actively involved in other initiatives that attract millions of persons and highlight some specific aspects of tourism. Among these the following deserve special mention: “theme amusement parks”, festivals, sports events, national and universal expositions, and particular celebrations such as, for instance, the choice of a place as the capital of culture or as the venue of a world day. (top)

3. Tourism and Society

11. Because of the proportions it has now reached, tourist activity has become one of the main sources of work, both through the direct or indirect employment it promotes and through the related services. Many countries are geared toward tourism precisely for this reason, even if an adequate view of the related working conditions is often lacking. In order to safeguard the dignity of the persons who work in tourism, in addition to respect for the workers’ rights recognized by the international community, some specific aspects should be taken into consideration that require particular measures.
First among these is the fact that work in tourism is seasonal. Tourist activity in general has seasonal rhythms that are particularly intense on certain occasions of the year. This results in a fluctuating work demand with temporary and variable employment that places workers in an uncertain and precarious situation. In addition to this, there is the intense work with particular working hours, the temporary distance from one’s place of residence, the resulting disturbance of family and social life, and disorientation with regard to religious practice. In this situation, not only the adoption and rigorous observation of the laws regulating working conditions and social security conditions are needed; measures should also be adopted that guarantee every worker the possibility to live with his family and to participate in social and religious life.[8]
A second important aspect has to do with formation. While it appears quite obvious that the outcome of tourist activity presupposes a high level of preparation of the promoters and operators, adequate formation should also be required for all personnel. In both cases it should be kept in mind that tourist activity requires specific preparation that does not only concern the technical aspect of the work, but also the condition in which it is done: i.e., in the context of human relations. In tourism it is still more obvious that “just as human activity proceeds from man, so it is ordered towards man”.[9] All tourist activity is at the service of persons; it is conceived of as offering means so that people can fulfill the decisions they have set for themselves in free time.
Similar principles should also apply for the activities connected with tourism, such as small businesses, the means of transportation, tourist agencies and related sectors where cases have been recorded of attempts to get fast and excessive profits from tourism.

12. In the past decades, international tourism has represented a determining factor for the development of many countries, and this will predictably continue in the future. The influence of tourism extends not only to economic activity, but also to the cultural, social and religious life of the whole society. This influence has not always brought about positive results for the overall development of the society.[10] It has highlighted some conditions that must be respected in order to safeguard the rights of persons and the environmental equilibrium. These conditions converge in proposals of a kind of tourism that adheres to the principles of a “sustainable development”, about which some points should be emphasized.
The principle of co-responsibility is the fundamental condition required of tourist activity, whose planning and management of profits is referred to the tour operators, civil authorities and local communities. The exercise of this principle must be appropriately regulated by the public authorities in the framework of the international principles that guide cooperation among states and the institutional tasks that promote the overall development of a country.
Tourist activity must be harmonized, as far as possible, with the economy of the whole country with regard to infrastructures and services, in particular communications and the use of resources. A grave injustice is done when tourist centers are provided with services that the local community does not normally have. This is more reprehensible when these services have to do with means necessary for a dignified existence, such as the water supply or public health.
The contribution that tourism is called to give to a country’s economic development should encourage the use and growth of products that are the results of traditional activities, such as agriculture, fishing and crafts. This contribution also requires the transfer of knowledge through the training of managerial staff and workers.  The use of resources derived from local production should be compatible with maintaining its traditional character without obliging it to make a transformation due solely to unassimilated, external factors.
It is also important for the economic development of tourist activity to respect the conditions and even the limits dictated by the surrounding environment. In the most vulnerable areas, such as coasts, small islands, woods and protected areas, tourism should not only impose a reasonable self-limitation on itself; it should also take on a considerable part of the costs for their protection.
Respect for these rules is especially necessary in the developing countries. We all know that in many cases tourist initiatives have caused grave damage not only to social life, culture and environment, but even to the country’s economy through the illusion of instantaneous development. The necessary measures should be adopted to stop this process where it is under way, and to keep it from happening in the future.

13. For a correct understanding of tourist structures today, we cannot fail to mention the relation of tourism with the process of globalization of the economy. Tourism, by nature, presents elements that were the origin of globalization and which are now accelerating it. The opening of frontiers to persons and firms and legislative and economic homogenization have always favored tourism. Tourism could be presented as the attractive face of globalization because of its openness to cultures and its ability to encourage dialogue and living together.
On the other hand, a certain kind of globalization implies grave consequences for the countries and for humanity. The distance between rich and poor countries has been accentuated; a new form of slavery and dependency for the weaker countries has been created, and a supremacy of the economic order has been established that threatens the dignity of the person.[11]
In this framework, the worst effects that go along with tourist development in many places have been aggravated: the exploitation of persons, especially women and children, in the area of labor and for sexual purposes; the spread of diseases that seriously endanger the health of large segments of the population; the traffic and consumption of drugs; the physical destruction of cultural identity and vital resources, etc. Certainly globalization cannot be blamed for these wounds of humanity, nor can tourism be considered solely responsible, but the fact cannot be ignored that both can favor them.
“Globalization, a priori, is neither good nor bad. It will be what people make of it. No system is an end in itself and the fact should be emphasized that globalization, like every other system, must be at the service of the human person, solidarity and the common good”.[12]  This observation also holds true for tourism which must always safeguard the dignity of the person, both of the tourist and of the local community.
Tourism can truly take on the role of promoter of “globalization in solidarity”, so desired by John Paul II,[13] by increasing initiatives against global and personal marginalization in the area of the transfer of knowledge, the development of cultures, the conservation of the patrimony, and the protection of the environment. (top)

4. Tourism and Theology

14. Before such a broad-ranging phenomenon that influences persons’ and entire peoples’ behavior so profoundly, the Church has not hesitated to follow the Lord’s command and seek adequate means to carry out the mission entrusted to her of scrutinizing the signs of the times and proclaiming the Gospel. All the dimensions of human life have in fact been transformed by God’s saving action, and all men are called to accept the gift of salvation in the newness of life in which the freedom and fraternity of the children of God stand out. The time dedicated to tourism can in no way be excluded from this history of unending love in which God visits man and lets him share in his glory. Moreover, a careful perception of the values that can be manifested in tourism suggests the possibility of understanding some central aspects of the history of salvation more deeply.
In practicing tourism, Christians are invited to give special thanks for the gift of creation in which the beauty of the Creator stands out, for the gift of paschal freedom which gives them solidarity with all their brothers and sisters in Christ the Lord, and for the gift of the feast, whereby the Holy Spirit leads them to the definitive homeland they yearn for and the goal of their pilgrimage in this world. This is a “eucharistic” dimension that should make tourism a time of contemplation, encounter and joy shared in the Lord “in praise of his glory” (Eph 1:14).

15. The history of salvation opens with the pages of Genesis. In the beginning, the first act of God’s love and wisdom culminates in the creation of man and woman in his “image and likeness” (Gen 1:26). The image and likeness to that divine love, from the beginning of time, has been manifested as a creative force. Man and woman receive the invitation to human creativity, which must recognize their fellow men in love and make the earth “fit to live in”. This image and likeness is also present in the need for rest, which celebrates the love fashioned into the beauty of creation.
Creation is the first gift given to man so as to “cultivate and take care of it” (Gen 2:15). In his mission, man must consider, first of all, that “coming as it does from the hand of God, the cosmos bears the imprint of his goodness. It is a beautiful world, rightly moving us to admiration and delight, but also calling for cultivation and development”.[14]
This mission also includes knowing and experiencing the multiplicity and variety of creation (cf. Si 42:24), as well illustrated by the testimony of the Biblical voyager: “A much traveled man knows many things, and a man of great experience will talk sound sense. Someone who has never had his trials knows little; but the traveled man is master of every situation. I have seen many things on my travels, I have understood more than I can put into words. I have often been in danger of death, but I have been spared” (Si 34:9-12).
Creation was given to man as the source of his sustenance and a means for developing a dignified life, in which all the members of the human family must share. In the pages of the Bible, this fundamental meaning of the divine command, “Fill the earth and conquer it” (Gen 1:28), is recalled in various ways. It also has concerns with the rest on the sabbath, which is extended to the whole of creation, through the institution of the sabbatical year, one of whose objectives is precisely to stress that the goods entrusted to man are at everyone’s disposal (cf. Lv 25:6; Is 58:13-14). For this reason, selfishly hoarding goods or accumulating wealth to the detriment of others and wasting what is superfluous are among the deepest roots of the injustice that offends God.
Essentially, at no time can man forget that the whole of creation is the gift that speaks to him constantly about the goodness of his God and Creator. In the intimate experience of this gift, contemplation on the creation accompanies man in his religious life (cf. Ps 104), inspires his prayers (cf. Ps 148), and encourages him in the hope of the promised salvation (cf. Rm 8:19-21; 2 Pt 3:13; Rev 21:1; Is 65:17). This is the meaning that man must give to the time for rest that has become longer, thanks to the wisdom and technology that God has allowed him to develop.

16. Human history is a time that is both liberated and yet to be liberated. The presence of sin in the world, the refusal to give a loving response to the dialogue begun by God, has mortally wounded the human creativity that is developed in work and in free time. After breaking the communion with God, with others and with nature itself, man sees his own selfishness as an absolute power and falls into a kind of slavery that keeps him from dedicating his time to God, to others and to beauty.
Nonetheless, God does not cease to offer his covenant to men. In seeing the suffering of his people, it is God himself who “comes down” to liberate them (Ex 3:7-10) and lead them to a homeland where the fruitfulness of the land will be the symbolic setting of a life of justice and holiness. The code of conduct of the chosen people is based entirely on this command: “Be holy, for I, Yahweh, your God, am holy” (Lv 19:2). The sabbath, the day of rest, is instituted as a celebration of the freedom received and as a remembrance of solidarity (cf. Dt 5:12-15).
Through this history, humanity is led toward the final times because only the one who “emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave” (Phil 2:7), the Risen Christ, can grant man full freedom. In him, “the new humanity” (cf. Eph 2:15), man is created anew in freedom and love because in “obedience of faith” (Rm 1:5), he will be holy in all his conduct (cf. 1 Pt 1:16).
This is a gift that everyone receives and which “also serves others and builds the Church and the fraternal communities in the various spheres of human life on earth because Christ teaches us that the best use of freedom is charity, which takes concrete form in self-giving and in service”. [15] Self-giving is what gives a transforming power to Christians’ action in family and social life, in work, rest and free time. In free time, in fact, self-giving takes on the meaning of greater gratuity because it enables offering more of one’s time.
“The Resurrection has, and confers the freedom that animates free time as its most intimate principle”, and this, in turn, “should make it possible for man…to achieve authentic humanism…that of the ‘paschal man’”.[16] For Christians, therefore, tourism fully enters into the paschal dynamism of renewal; it is a celebration of the gift received; it is a voyage of encounter toward other persons with whom to celebrate the joy of salvation; it is a time to be shared in action with solidarity that brings us closer to the restoration of all things in Christ (Cf. Acts 3:21).

17. In proclaiming the Lord’s resurrection, Christians profess the certainty that their path and their whole history are guided by the Father’s love for “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:1). Moreover, as they walk through the world, Christians live the feast promised especially in the Sunday celebration, in which “to share in ‘the Lord’s Supper’ is to anticipate the eschatological feast of the ‘marriage of the Lamb’” .[17] Illuminated by the certainty of this hope, “Sunday rest then becomes ‘prophetic’, affirming not only the absolute primacy of God, but also the primacy and dignity of the person with respect to the demands of social and economic life”.[18]
The time for rest and free time offer the opportunity to know and appreciate everything that has been anticipated in the past and present history of peoples, “the glory, as yet unrevealed” (Rm 8:18), and in the whole of humanity welcomed by the Father. In a special way, those achievements, in which the spiritual search, religious faith, the understanding of things and love for beauty are fashioned, are contemplated as “the glory and honor of the nations” (Rev 21:26), brought to the new Jerusalem (cf. Is 60:3-7; Ml 1:11). This contemplation, in turn, reaffirms the commitment with regard to the dignity of the person, respect for the culture of peoples, and to safeguarding the integrity of creation. (top)


18. The world of tourism constitutes a widespread and multiform reality that requires specific pastoral attention. The main purpose of the pastoral care of tourism is to encourage the optimal conditions that will aid Christians in living the reality of tourism as a moment of grace and salvation. Tourism can certainly be considered one of the new Areopaguses of evangelization, one of the “vast sectors of contemporary civilization and culture, of politics and economics”,[19] where Christians are called to live their faith and their missionary vocation.
This overall objective indicates that the pastoral care of tourism must be included in the whole range of the Church’s pastoral tasks. Therefore the pastoral care of tourism must be organically included in the ordinary pastoral care and coordinated with the other sectors, such as the family, school, youth, social promotion, stewardship of cultural goods, ecumenism.
The local Christian community, which has its most direct expression in the parish, is the place where the pastoral care of tourism develops. In the local community, in fact, tourists are offered the Christian welcome that accompanies them in their lives as believers, and welcome is given to every visitor with no distinctions. In the local community, Christians are educated for travel and trained to work in tourism. The community’s efforts prepare for making bonds of cooperation to promote the human and spiritual values that tourism can favor. Each of these important aspects requires a differentiated and participative attention whose urgency can vary according to the local circumstances and the local community’s possibilities. (top)

1. Welcome

19. ”Remember always to welcome strangers, for by doing this, some people have entertained angels” (Heb 13:2).[20] These words indicate very well the crux of the pastoral care of tourism and identify it with one of the fundamental attitudes that must characterize the whole Christian community.[21] Welcoming tourists and accompanying them in their search for beauty and rest should be motivated by the conviction that man “is the primary and fundamental way for the Church, the way traced out by Christ himself, the way that leads inwardly through the mystery of the Incarnation and the Redemption”.[22]  
In the Eucharistic celebration, the fulcrum of every ecclesial community, the welcome offered to visitors has its deepest expression. In this celebration the community lives its union with the Risen Christ, builds its unity with its brethren,[23] and offers the most explicit witness that communion goes well beyond the ties of blood and culture. The universality of the Church assembled by the Savior echoes most strongly in this meeting of brethren coming from such different places, who are united in one prayer proclaimed in different languages.
For the Eucharistic celebration, particularly the Sunday celebration, to make these characteristics really visible, everyone, both tourists and residents, will have to be able to take part in it. Naturally, it is essential to preserve the celebration’s own character, which comes not only from its own nature but also from the identity of the local Church that celebrates it. In this sense, it is good to introduce the use of the tourists’ languages into the celebration without impeding the participation of the local community or altering the rhythm of the celebration. In addition to intervening through comments or readings, it will be useful to distribute printed aids or plan a moment of preparation before the celebration begins in order to allow the tourists to take full part in it.[24]
The celebration of the Eucharist is the most common moment for an encounter between the local community and the tourists, but it should not be the only one. All the other occasions when the local community meets for the celebration of faith, particularly during the principal times of the liturgical year, are an opportunity to invite tourists and to offer fraternal aid for their life of faith. The local community should also plan meetings and prepare means of information to encourage and support tourists to profit from this particular time.
It should not be forgotten that the Eucharistic celebration gives the basis of the community’s life in charity and solidarity. Tourists cannot be excluded from this essential aspect of the life of faith. They must be truly interested in the problems of the host community which, in turn, must let them know their real situation and offer them concrete occasions to demonstrate their sharing.
Special attention should be given to the welcome for visitors who are members of other Christian denominations and special care should be shown in responding to their needs for the celebration of faith. The tourist phenomenon is often the main reason for the ecumenical effort, and it appears to be the most immediate means for making Christians discover the pain of separation and for understanding the urgent need to pray and work for unity. This situation should be welcomed as a gift of the Spirit to his Church, to which a totally dedicated and generous response must be given.

20. Whether Christians are part of a host community or themselves tourists, they are called upon to give witness in tourism to their faith and to re-discover an opportunity for the missionary vocation which is the basis of their rights and duties as Christians.[25]
Especially in places where there are great numbers of tourists, the Christian community must be aware of being “missionary by nature”,[26] and proclaim the Gospel with courage, generosity and respect, denouncing injustices and offering paths of hope, even if the tourists’ stay is relatively brief and their attention is conditioned by various circumstances.
In this context, all the elements that make up the religious, cultural and artistic patrimony of the local community take on special importance. The monuments, works of art, the cultural events or those inherent in its tradition must be presented to visitors in a way that makes their connection with the community’s daily life. In this way the community will deepen its own identification with its past and feel encouraged in its desire to go forward toward the future in fidelity to the Lord.

21. Another particularly circumstance in which hospitality for visitors should be planned very carefully is in places with a specifically religious significance that are included among the destinations proposed to tourists today.
Outstanding among these are shrines, the destination of Christian pilgrimages, where many tourists also go both for cultural reasons, for rest or for their religious appeal. In an increasingly secularized world dominated by a sense of immediacy and materialism, these visits can be the sign of a desire to return to God. Shrines, therefore, should offer suitable a welcome to these visitors, which will help them to recognize the meaning of their way and understand the goal to which they are called.[27] Because of the means used, this welcome will certainly be different from that reserved for those who go to the shrine on a pilgrimage. However, after assuring due respect for the identity of the place, all forms of exclusion or marginalization with regard to the visitors must be avoided. The best service that can be offered in order to lead them to reflect on their own religious sentiments will be the explanation of the religious nature of the place and the meaning of the pilgrimage that is made there.[28]
On other occasions, a religious place is visited because of its outstanding artistic or historic value, as in the case of cathedrals, churches, monasteries and abbeys. The hospitality offered in these places should not be limited to historic or artistic information however accurate; it should also highlight their religious identity and purpose. It may also be useful to mention that for many tourists such visits often constitute a unique occasion to know about the Christian faith. At the same time, efforts should be made to avoid disturbing the religious celebrations in course by planning the tourists’ visits according to the needs of worship.
The persons in charge of local pastoral care should encourage welcome and provide training to receive the visitors. For this purpose, they should encourage the faithful’s cooperation and give those who are interested not only technical, but also spiritual training that will help them to discover a means to live and give witness to their faith in this service.[29]
The duty of hospitality also requires particular organization on the occasion of other religious events that attract a great number of tourists because of their traditional or popular character. Pastoral attention is called to directing the religiosity that animates these visitors toward a more authentic personal faith in the living God. The same attention should be given, as far as possible, to the promotion that tourist agencies give to these events. Therefore it will be necessary to seek the travel agents’ cooperation and provide them with clear and accurate information about the religious significance of these events.
In many countries, especially in Asia, visitors show real interest in the major religious traditions. The local Churches should contribute toward making this encounter truly fruitful by involving tourists in the “dialogue of life and heart”[30] that they are called to promote.
It is good to remind Christians who visit the places venerated by the faithful of other religions to behave with the greatest respect and to assume an attitude that will not offend the religious sensitivity of the persons who receive them. They should take advantage of these occasions, when possible, to show their respect through word and deed so that “the spiritual and moral goods and the socio-cultural values found in these religions will recognized, preserved and advanced”.[31] (top)

2. Living Tourism in a Christian Way

22. The encounter with Christ, sealed by baptismal grace, calls Christians to follow the impulse of the Holy Spirit and to transform their lives so that “Christ may walk with each person the path of life, with the power of the truth about man and the world that is contained in the mystery of the Incarnation and the Redemption and with the power of the love that is radiated by that truth”.[32] This is the reality that constitutes the mission of the Church and reveals how the heart of her pastoral action also lies in the reality of tourism.
First, everyone should recognize that the effort to live one’s free time as a Christian must necessarily be sustained by a deep Christian vision of tourism. Careful meditation on Scripture first will prepare Christians for contemplation of God through the beauty of creation, communion with their brethren in the new saved humanity, and, lastly, for the feast as a manifestation of the hope that sustains everyone and renews everything. Illuminated by this grace, Christians will discover that the time dedicated to rest and tourism is a time of grace, a demanding occasion that calls them to prayer, celebration of their faith and communion with their brethren.
For tourism to effectively take on a Christian form, Christians must share the celebration of the faith with the local community, in particular the Eucharist on the Lord’s Day and the most significant moments of the liturgical year which often coincide with the vacation period. [33] Knowing that they should never feel like strangers in any community and that in every corner of the world they ought to feel at home and in a family, Christian will make personal efforts to aid the participation of other tourists in the liturgical celebrations. If necessary, they will assert their right to have the necessary conditions to practice their faith to the attention of the persons in charge of tourism.
At all times, Christian must abstain not only from any behavior contrary to their vocation, but also from words, gestures and attitudes that can offend the sensitivity of others. In particular, they will avoid a kind of behavior that involves ostentations displays of wealth or squandering of resources. On the contrary, tourists’ Christian witness should be made concrete in aid to the neediest by giving them part of the money they planned for the voyage.
This kind of attitude in life, sustained by prayer, should be adopted especially when the local circumstances make tourists’ participation more difficult in the religious moments of the community, as for instance in countries with a Christian minority. In such cases, Christian should feel challenged in a special way to live their faith through the witness of their behavior and to try to set up a prudent and respectful religious dialogue with the persons they meet.

23. Most of the time, a voyage is undertaken with one’s family members. We are aware that in contemporary society many circumstances make family life, communication, cohabitation and exchanges among family members difficult. Even the use of free time, which is predominantly geared to individual preferences, cannot correct this situation. From this viewpoint, family tourism can be proposed as an effective means for strengthening and even rebuilding family bonds. The program for a trip together, whose success requires everyone’s responsible participation, increases the possibilities for dialogue, improves mutual understanding and appreciation, reinforces each member of the family’s esteem, and encourages generosity in mutual aid.[34]
Family tourism offers parents a valuable occasion to carry out their role as their children’s catechists through dialogue and example. Family tourism is an exceptional opportunity for personal enrichment in the culture of life, in respect for the moral and cultural values, and in safeguarding the creation. It cannot be forgotten that the dimension of freedom, which is particularly present in tourism, encourages and trains in responsibility.

24.The practice of tourism also brings together groups of persons by age and because of other circumstances of working and social life. The Church’s pastoral attention takes these groups into consideration and offers her aid so that the promoters of tourism and the tourists themselves can live these specific circumstances in all their human and spiritual richness.
Among these groups, in first place are the voyages by groups of adolescents and youth, usually in the framework of their scholastic formation. The organizers of these trips, especially those who are part of the Christian educational sector or similar formative organizations, should strive to offer the conditions necessary for making these travel experiences an occasion for young persons to deepen their faith. Similarly, it will be useful to welcome the initiatives of volunteers who dedicate part of their vacation to aid in emergency situations or to the promotion of development.[35] Particular pastoral attention should also be given, both in the countries of origin and in the host countries, to young people who take advantage of their vacations to stay in foreign countries in order to learn languages.
On the other hand, there are more and more travel opportunities offered to the elderly. They should be “voyages of joy” characterized by an unceasing thanksgiving and by a “sense of confident abandonment into God’s hands”, so that “the taste for life, a fundamental gift of God, is conserved and will grow”.[36]
However, access to tourism is not within everyone’s reach. There are, in fact, too many people who cannot take advantage of its benefits from the personal or the cultural and social aspect. Under the name of “social tourism”, many associations are working to make tourism accessible to all, both through initiatives that aid persons and families with financing, and by planning and developing certain tourist activities. The Church’s pastoral attention should aim at assessing and supporting these initiatives that really put tourism at the service of personal realization and social development. Associations are also not lacking which, through tourism, offer very effective opportunities for insertion for persons in lonely or marginalized situations. Through her participation, the Church gives witness to God’s particular predilection for the humble.

25. As emphasized earlier, tourism represents a very important chapter in the world economy and constitutes a network of activities that are developed today in the area of market economy structures[37] immersed in a process of globalization. One fundamental objective of the pastoral care of tourism therefore will be to see to it that the entire area of management and labor in the tourist sector will be included and illuminated by the Church’s social doctrine.
In tourism, the fundamental truth that should guide all economic activity seems obvious which John Paul II has summarized in these words: “More than ever, work is work with others and work for others: it is a matter of doing something for someone else”.[38] The whole of tourist activity, in fact, has the person as its protagonist, and it tries to satisfy some of the person’s most intimate and personal aspirations. This special bond with the person imposes greater ethical requirements on tourist activity which are expressed in respect for human dignity and rights, in implementation of the principal of solidarity, in justice in working relations, and in the preferential choice for the poor.
For this reason, the pastoral care of tourism should promote initiatives so that the Christian operators and workers in the tourist sector will know the Church’s social doctrine, with particular reference to the sector, and conform their behavior to it.

26. With regard to the entrepreneurs and promoters of tourism, it will be useful to stress some aspects of the Church’s social doctrine which are particularly significant for their activity.
In the promotion of tourism, especially in creating new destinations or opening up new spaces for tourist activity, investments should be considered a “moral and cultural choice”.[39] This means that it is necessary to be guided by those criteria that consider economic activity a service to persons and to the community, and not just as a source of income.
The ecological question, which is related to tourism in a very sensitive way, is an aspect to be taken into due consideration in the promotion of tourist activity. To respond to the “moral problem”[40] that the ecological crisis represents for today’s world, it is necessary to promote initiatives to respect the environmental impact and to safeguard the priorities of the local community, even at the cost of limiting tourist activity if necessary. All efforts aimed at making Christians responsible for an austere lifestyle with solidarity in their voyages to the developing countries will be in vain if tour operators and promoters are not guided by an appropriate sensitivity.
The moral and Christian criteria that must inspire the promotion of tourism will be effectively applied if there is the necessary cooperation between the operators, the political leaders and the representatives of the local community. For Christian tour operators, this cooperation constitutes an occasion for giving witness, for communion and proclamation of the Kingdom of God in justice and fraternity.

27. The tour programs that are offered and the presentation of destinations or advertising about activities for the vacation period constitute the most visible and inviting aspect of the world of tourism through which people see their desires and dreams take on color and appeal. In these circumstances, it is obvious that objective information is required from the promoters, absolute respect for the dignity of persons and the characteristics of the places to which the information refers, honesty with regard to the tour offerings, and absolute reliability in the services proposed. If tourism is an expression of the person’s freedom, any information that promotes it should favor the exercise of responsible freedom.[41] This responsibility extends to the entire voyage and includes the willingness to receive the users’ fair observations and useful suggestions afterwards.
The service that promoters offer to tourists obviously coincides with the Christian virtue of charity which is exercised in giving appropriate advice and in sharing the difficulties and joys of the way. Christian promoters should thus be distinguished for the uprightness and respect with which they present the places with a religious significance. They should also take care to include and mention in their programs the attention to be given to the eventual needs of every religion.
The pastoral care of tourism will propose initiatives geared to giving Christian promoters the occasion to reflect on the criteria of their action. Moreover, it will be very important for them to receive, through the cooperation of other persons, information that is suited to their needs about the places or religious events that usually appear as tourist destinations. This action should also be undertaken in cooperation with the competent bodies of other countries so that the proposed objectives will also be achieved in the organization of international tourism. In order to achieve these intentions, the presence of the pastoral care of tourism bodies at the many fairs in this sector will be useful.

28. Tourists are often accompanied by guides who help them to achieve the purposes of their voyage. Very often, for tourists, guides become the most immediate fashioners of the success or failure of their vacation. Truly we will never sufficiently appreciate the influence that guides have on tourists and, consequently, their responsibility to have adequate training for the exercise of their profession.
For this reason, associations and meetings should be promoted, in which Christians who work as guides can up-date their human and spiritual formation and support one another in a task that requires respect, dedication and attention to the spiritual good of the tourists. They should keep in mind that their particular relation with the tourists requires their witness to the faith in a special way.
When guides present places, monuments or events of a religious nature to tourists, they should do so in an informed and competent way and with complete awareness that they are in some way real evangelizers, while always using prudence and respect.
The pastoral initiatives that refer to guides can also be extended to the category of “animators”, which is growing numerically, and who are always present in the tourists’ day. To a large extent, the key is in their hands for transforming free time into a significant space, sound entertainment, and human and spiritual growth.

29. Those who promote tourism and those who work in it have a specific role in welcoming visitors; indeed, they, in some way, are the first protagonists. Through their work they are in direct contact with the visitors, and they are the first to know about their expectations and eventual disappointments; they often become their confidants and can act as advisers and guides.
Christians who exercise their profession in tourism discover that they have a great responsibility in this situation. The success of the visitor’s stay, both humanly and spiritually, depends on their professional honesty and Christian commitment.
In order to respond to this challenge, Christian tourism professionals should be able to rely on the decisive support of the community and the pastoral workers. It is essential to offer them specific preparation during the formation period, both in professional schools and through other complementary initiatives. In planning celebrations and catechesis, their working hours should also be taken into consideration.
The pastoral care of tourism should be particularly sensitive to the particular situation of the workers in this sector. Religious and sacramental attention suited to their working conditions will be necessary, without upsetting the timetables and rhythms of the community’s life. This adaptation should also be taken into account in promoting the workers’ participation in parish life, apostolic movements, or the formation of specific groups or specialized movements. Such formation is a tool of pastoral action that should be encouraged with every possible resources both within the area of work and outside of it.
There are some situations which should be given special attention, such as the grave conditions in which workers often find themselves with regard to their family life. The working conditions mentioned earlier can affect the normal life of the family, of the husband and wife, or of the parents with the children both because of working hours and because the worker is obliged to live far from the family.
During the formation period and at the beginning of their working life, young people constitute another group which should be provided with a specific service. These youth are living a decisive moment in their personal life, and it will be very useful for them to be able to count on the Church’s support. In this regard, the parish, groups and centers have an essential role where young people can meet for formation meetings, reflection and the celebration of their faith.
The condition of women working in the tourist sector constitutes another priority which the pastoral care of tourism must keep in mind. All the initiatives that lead to greater respect for women’s dignity and for their specific place in the family and society should be intensified and supported. (top)

3. Cooperation between the Church and Society

30. In her mission in the world, the Church, on the one hand, “offers to mankind the honest assistance of the Church in fostering that brotherhood of man”,[42] which facilitates attaining the goals in consonance with human dignity; on the other, “she is convinced that she can be abundantly and variously helped by the world in the matter of preparing the ground for the Gospel. This help she gains from the talents and industry of individuals and from human society as a whole”.[43]
This reciprocal service of the Church and society is carried out first of all through the specific mission of the laity. For this, the pastoral care of tourism must set up and encourage cooperation with the public administrations and with the professional organizations and associations working in tourism so that the Christian vision of tourism can be spread and develop “the implicit possibility of a new humanism”[44] in tourism.
Guided by this principle, the Holy See opened the Permanent Observer Mission to the World Tourism Organization. Since 1980, this Organization has been convening the World Day of Tourism on September 27th of each year, and in 1999 it adopted the World Ethical Code of Tourism. On her part, the Church joins in the celebration of the Day and gives it a spiritual significance through the Pope’s yearly message. In this way it also shares the inspiring principles of the Code.
Similarly, Bishops’ Conferences and the individual Bishops should try to keep up an on-going dialogue with public administrations, both national and local, with tourist promotion bodies, and with associations of tour operators and workers so that the Church’s cooperation in building up a more just and more peaceful world with solidarity will be expressed in concrete actions.
Close collaboration should also be sought on every level with the associations that fight against situations that offend human dignity and in which tourism has its own responsibilities, such as “sex tourism”, drug addiction, destruction of the environment, the erosion of cultural identity, and plundering the patrimony. In particular, Christians have the duty to denounce these grave situations and to do what they can to eliminate them. (top)


31. The evangelizing mission is a task that falls upon the Church in fidelity to the command received from the Lord. All the members of the Church are called to take part in this fundamental task in a diversity that makes worthier the true equality of all in “action for the edification of the Body of Christ”.[45] To carry out her evangelizing mission, the Church seeks ever more suitable means and is willing to renew them according to the needs of the times,[46] giving special attention to respecting and adopting “with courage and prudence”[47] the aspects and the “language” of every single people.[48]
The development of tourism and its important growth for the countries, have merited the Church’s pastoral attention, and she has followed this from its first steps, animated by her experience in accompanying the path of so many pilgrims for centuries.[49] Aware that the new dimensions of the phenomenon of tourism call for “concerted efforts on the part of the different members of the Christian communities”,[50] the Church has proposed some criteria for coordinating the work in the different areas of action. The following guidelines, in continuity with the previous interventions, intend to encourage the joint efforts of those who feel called to work more directly in the world of tourism. (top)

1. The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples

32. With the Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Apostolicae caritatis of March 19, 1970, Pope Paul VI instituted the “Pontifical Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples” which depended on the Congregation for Bishops. Through that document, the institution that was created took on a very important role in present-day society with regard to the enormous increase in movements made possible by technological progress. With regard to tourism in particular, the same document points out that this involves “an enormous mass of persons and, in the social area, constitutes a new feature with precise characteristics”.[51]
With the Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus (June 28, 1988), the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples was created which substituted the Commission and took on its competencies. With reference to tourism, Pastor bonus states that the Pontifical Council “makes efforts so that the voyages undertaken for reason of piety, study or diversion will favor the moral and religious formation of the faithful, and it aids the local Churches so that all those who are outside of their own residence can have adequate pastoral assistance”.[52]
In carrying out the mission entrusted to it, the Pontifical Council has the following main objectives:

1. to promote and coordinate an on-going analysis of the development of tourism, in particular its influence on the spiritual and religious life of persons and communities;
2. to propose pastoral guidelines that can be adopted jointly or by groups of countries;
3. to keep permanent contact with the Bishops’ Conferences in order to coordinate and support the pastoral initiatives in the tourism sector;
4. to cooperate with the centers of higher ecclesiastic studies and research institutes that include the study of tourism in their programs;
5. to plan the annual celebration of the World Day of Tourism and to prepare and distribute catechetical material on the theme of the Day;
6. to keep regular contact with the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the World Tourism Organization.[53] (top)

2. Bishops’ Conferences

33. The Bishops’ Conferences are an organism constituted “so that by sharing their wisdom and experience and exchanging views they may jointly formulate a program for the common good of the Church”.[54] The Apostolic Letter Apostolos suos specifies: “In dealing with new questions and in acting so that the message of Christ enlightens and guides people's consciences in resolving new problems arising from changes in society, the Bishops assembled in the Episcopal Conference and jointly exercising their teaching office are well aware of the limits of their pronouncements. While being official and authentic and in communion with the Apostolic See, these pronouncements do not have the characteristics of a universal magisterium”.[55] In the activity of the Bishops’ Conference, a preferential place goes to pastoral attention to those themes that bring about innovative changes in society and the proposal of “forms and means of apostolate suited to the circumstances of time and place”.[56]
Tourism is certainly one of those themes that requires attention on the part of the Bishops’ Conferences. It in fact is an area that is still new for society and in particular for the communities whose territory and cultural patrimony are becoming the destination of international tourism. The newness of tourism, on the other hand, lies in its constant evolution which is creating new lifestyles and new habits.
We will mention some concrete initiatives that can be adopted by the Bishops’ Conferences in the area of tourism:

1. To provide all the bishops with an up-to-date picture of the tendencies in the tourist movement in the country, its means, social influences on the people and on the working world, and the religious needs of the tourists. This information should refer both to domestic and international tourism. When the size of tourism’s development in a country so requires, it will be useful to entrust this task of study and analysis to a permanent observatory at a Catholic university or an ecclesiastical institute in the country.
2. To create a training program geared especially to the workers in the pastoral care of tourism, which can be adopted by the different seminaries and formation institutes so that all the dioceses can have duly prepared priests and pastoral workers.
3. To offer a set of guidelines to the ordinary pastoral care so that all the faithful will have a suitable catechesis on free time and tourism.
4. To make contacts with other Bishops’ Conferences, when circumstances so require, in order to open channels of cooperation between countries of departure and countries of arrival for the exchange of pastoral workers and for information and liturgical material in the different languages.
5. To promote formation programs for tour guides, especially those who accompany the visits to places of a religious nature and also for students in schools and centers for tourist and hotel training.
6. To include tourism among the subjects taken up by the “Catholic Cultural Centers”.[57]
7. To envisage possible forms of cooperation between the dioceses so that religious assistance can be organized better in the places where there are great seasonal gatherings of tourists.
8. To set up contacts with representatives of the other Christian denominations in view of ecumenical cooperation in the major tourist centers.[58]
9. To maintain a dialogue with the public authorities and interested bodies in order to establish forms of cooperation for programming and supervising initiatives of tourist activity, with particular attention to the defense of the cultural identity of the local communities, the rights of those employed in the sector, the correct use of the artistic-religious patrimony, and the respect with which visitors must be received.
10. To promote the Church’s presence at the “Fairs” of this sector.

To coordinate all these activities, it is useful to create a body within the Bishops’ Conference,[59] with a group of experts representing the different sectors of tourism. (top)

3. Dioceses

34. As an activity carried out by people during their free time, as a work sector in which many exercise their profession, and as a whole series of activities that characterize a place as a tourist destination, tourism is present in a great part of contemporary society. Integrated in this way into the daily life of communities, tourism is a dimension that diocesan pastoral care must consider as its ordinary component and, as such, be found among the sectors that are the object of the regular attention of the local Ordinary and his consultative Councils.
Among the objectives of the pastoral care of tourism on the diocesan level, the following should not be absent:

1. To offer a Christian vision of tourism that will lead the faithful to live this reality with a commitment to faith and witness and with a missionary attitude. This objective should be kept in mind in preaching, catechesis and in the use of the communications media. Similarly, efforts should be made so that suitable formation will be offered in schools for appreciating the values of tourism in harmony with the dignity and development of individual persons and of entire peoples.
2. To train pastoral workers who can promote in a specific way the pastoral work in this sector. When the needs of the diocese so require, some priests and lay persons should be offered the opportunity to have greater specific formation.
3. To study the reality of tourism in the diocese, formulating the pastoral criteria and proposing the actions to be undertaken in the Presbyterial and Pastoral Councils.[60] Religious attention for tourists, integrated into the diocesan program of pastoral activity, should be carried out in ways suited to their language and culture, without making this a separate reality or creating difficulties for the local community’s life.
4. To adopt measures in the periods of greater tourist density in order to optimize the service of the most visited parishes and to foresee, if necessary, bringing in priests from other parishes and the cooperation of priests from other dioceses or other countries.
5. To express words of welcome to tourists from the diocesan Church through a letter from the Bishop, especially at the beginning of the most intense tourist periods and through aids that will facilitate information and participation in the celebrations and life of the local Church.
6. To promote the formation of groups and associations and the collaboration of volunteers in managing the Church’s patrimony that is open to visitors and in giving hospitality to tourists in such a way that the opening hours are long enough.
7. To build parish and community centers more suitable to the pastoral care of tourism, taking the new urban and social realities into consideration.
8. To keep contact with the leaders of other Christian denominations in order to adopt measures that will contribute to a better religious service for their faithful, according to the criteria and norms set down by the Holy See and the Bishops’ Conferences.
9. To encourage cooperation with the local public and administrative authorities, with associations of operators and workers, and with the other organizations involved in tourism.
10. To create a diocesan Commission for the pastoral care of tourism that will coordinate and animate the pastoral care of this sector and of which experts from the different categories of persons in the world of tourism are part. (top)

4. Parishes

35. The parish ”gathers into a unity all the human diversities that are found there and inserts them into the universality of the Church”.[61] It is the first school of hospitality, especially when it comes together to celebrate the Lord’s Day.[62] The parish is open to welcoming those who are passing through, and it prepares its own faithful for the voyages they intend to make. In the parish those who propose to live sincere witness to their faith in the world of tourism find support.
Considering the parish community as a point of encounter and support for pastoral action implies first of all that the parish will be present through its structures in the places where tourism takes place.  The visible sign of the Church and parish centers constitutes the first concrete gesture of hospitality. Through this presence, the parish invites all visitors to take part in the celebration of faith and fraternal communion.
However, in planning the pastoral care of tourism, the parish community should not only be involved in welcoming visitors; it should also prepare its own faithful to practice tourism in a Christian way and support those who act and work in tourism.
In adopting the objectives proposed by the diocesan Church, some of the concrete initiatives to be undertaken by the parish include the following:

1. To develop a catechesis on free time and tourism when the local situations call for this, both for the Christian residents and for the tourists.
2. To encourage and promote action to support and prevent groups who may be victims of an erroneous promotion of tourism or of tourists’ behavior.
3. To promote, welcome and encourage the action of apostolic groups dedicated particularly to persons living and working in the tourism sector, even when these are not found within the parish itself.[63]
4. To form a permanent group of lay persons to study and propose pastoral actions to be undertaken in the field of tourism.
5. To adapt the services to the tourists’ needs in places where there are many tourists so as to facilitate personal contact, the celebration of faith, individual prayer, and the witness to charity.
6. To create specific services for workers in tourism, according to their working hours and conditions.
7. To propose appropriate measures so that visitors will be able to take part in the Eucharistic celebrations in their own language or with other expressions of their culture, always in respect for the liturgical dispositions in force.
8. To keep the information up-to-date regarding the parish services and to see to it that tourists can find this information in their hotels, at information points or through other means of distribution. (top)


36. Tourism is the ideal occasion for man to realize that he is a pilgrim in time and space: ”Enlivened and united in His Spirit, we journey toward the consummation of human history, one which fully accords with the counsel of God’s love: ‘To re-establish all things in Christ, both those in the heavens and those on earth’ (Eph 11:10)”.[64] The Church follows the exemplary itinerary of her Master and Lord,[65] and teaches people to discover their true vocation. In all men’s hearts, in fact, the deep restlessness of the condition of Homo viator is manifested; the thirst for new horizons is felt; the radical certainty is experienced that the goal of existence can only be attained in the infiniteness of God.[66]
Man’s search becomes obvious and explicit in tourism. To satisfy his desire to know other persons and cultures, to develop his own personal skills and to have new experiences, man will not renounce dedicating a part of his free time to tourism. This search expressed in tourism is made not only when people undertake great voyages or dangerous adventures; it is also particularly obvious in the efforts by individuals and families to have one or more days of rest together, in the inconveniences of a trip to visit relatives or friends, and in the collaboration that a group excursion requires.
After encountering God in favorable psychological conditions, in the beauty of nature and art, tourists will feel the need to say with Saint Augustine: “You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts will not rest until they rest in you”.[67] And also, “Late have I loved you, o beauty so ancient and so new, late have I loved you! And here you were inside of me and I was outside: and here I sought you…I have tasted You and now I hunger and thirst for you”.[68]
After opening up to a universal fraternity, a sharing in a “dialogue between the civilizations and cultures to build a civilization of love and peace”,[69] tourists will join in the Psalmist’s hymn: “How good, how delightful it is for all to live together like brothers” (Ps 133:1).
With Mary, the Mother of God and image of the Church,[70] all tourists, awed by the beauty contemplated in creation (cf. Wis 13:3), will praise the Lord (cf. Lk 1:46), and tell of the wondrous deeds he has accomplished (cf. Sir 42:15-43,33), thereby bringing a message of hope to their brothers and sisters in humanity. (top)

Vatican City, June 29, 2001, Feast of Saints Peter and Paul





[1]CONGREGATION FOR THE CLERGY, General Directory for the Pastoral Care of Tourism (April 30, 1969). 

[2]JOHN PAUL II, Message for the World Day of Tourism 2000, 5.

[3]Statistics are supplied by the World Tourism Organization (WTO), January 30, 2001. 

[4]Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Laborem exercens(September 14, 1981), 10. 

[5]Ibid., 25. 

[6]JOHN PAUL II in his Apostolic Letter Inter sanctos(November 29, 1979)declared St. Francis of Assisi the “celestial patron of ecologists”. 

[7]ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI, Canticle of the Creatures

[8]Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Laborem exercens (September 14, 1981), 23. 

[9]SECOND ECUMENICAL VATICAN COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 35; cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Laborem exercens (September 14, 1981), 26. 

[10]With regard to the development achieved in the period that has been mentioned (1960-1980), JOHN PAUL II writes: “It cannot be said that these various religious, human, economic and technical initiatives have been in vain, for they have succeeded in achieving certain results. But in general, taking into account the various factors, one cannot deny that the present situation of the world, from the point of view of development, offers a rather negative impression” (Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo rei socialis [December 30, 1987], 13). 

[11]Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia (November 6, 1999), 39. 

[12]JOHN PAUL II, Discourse to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (April 28, 2001), 2. 

[13]JOHN PAUL II, Message for the World Day of Peace 1998, 3.

[14]JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Dies Domini (May 31,1998), 10.

[15]JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptor hominis (March 4, 1979), 21. 

[16]JOHN PAUL II, Homily in the Funchal Stadium, Island of Madeira, Portugal (May 12, 1991), 6. 

[17]JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Dies Domini (May 31, 1998), 38. 

[18]Ibid., 68. 

[19]JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente (November 10, 1994), 57. 

[20]The early Christians considered hospitality a fundamental duty and one of the most authentic expressions of charity. It was considered an important human and Christian virtue, a manifestation of community life, a inviolate right of the stranger, a way to reach God, a gift that comes from heaven, a possibility to do good and thus to expiate one’s sins (cf. ST. GREGORY NAZIANZEN, Orat. 8,12: SCh 405,270; ST. AMBROSE, De Abrah. I,5,32-30: PL 14, 456-459; ST. MAXIMUS OF TURIN, Serm. 21, 1-2: CCL 23, 79-81; ST. GREGORY THE GREAT, Hom.In Evang.II,23,2: PL 76, 1183). 

[21]Let us remember the praise of CLEMENT OF ROME: “Who in fact could stay with you and not recognize your firm faith adorned with every virtue, not admire your wise and lovable piety in Christ, and not exalt your generous practice of hospitality?” (Ep. Ad Corint. 1,2: SCh 167,101). 

[22]JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptor hominis (March 4, 1979), 14. 

[23]The Eucharist is in fact a “sign of unity” and a “bond of charity” (ST. AUGUSTINE, In Ioan. Tract. 26:13: PL 35,1613); cf. also SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium 3,11). 

[24]In this context, it should be mentioned that the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (April 20, 2000) also lists, among those who exercise the liturgical ministry, the persons who welcome the faithful at the door of the church and take care of them (cf. No. 105d.). 

[25]Cf. CIC, can. 225. 


[27]Cf. PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE PASTORAL CARE OF MIGRANTS AND ITINERANT PEOPLES, The Shrine. Memory, Presence and Prophecy of the Living God (May 8, 1999), 6. 

[28]Especially by visiting the Holy Land, the hidden and mysterious countenance of God can be found through the silent testimonies of Christ, such as the places and the objects, and the word of God can be understood better. ST. JEROME stated: “The Greek historians are understood so much better when one has seen Athens, and the third book of Virgil [of the Aeneid] when one has sailed from Troad…to Sicily and from there to the mouth of the Tiber; and so one understands Holy Scripture better when one has seen with one’s own eyes Judea and contemplated the ruins of the ancient cities” (Praef.In Liber Paralip: PL29,423). 

[29]Cf. PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR CULTURE, For a Pastoral Care of Culture (May 23, 1999), 37. 

[30]JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia (November 6, 1999), 31. 

[31]SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Declaration Nostra aetate (October 28, 1965), 2. 

[32]JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris hominis (March 4, 1979), 13. 

[33]In this way, what St. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM hoped for will come to be: “Our minds feel raised higher, our soul becomes stronger, our commitment greater, our faith more ardent” (De Droside martyre 2: PG 50,685B); In the information he gives about St. Simeon Stylites, THEODORET OF CYRUS states: “He who comes for a spectacle returns from it learned in divine things” (Hist. Relig. 26,12: SCh 257, 188). 

[34]Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Angelus, Castel Gandolfo (August 1, 1999). 

[35]Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio (December 7, 1990), 82. 

[36]JOHN PAUL II, Letter to the Elderly (October 1, 1999), 16. 

[37]Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus annus (May 1, 1991), 42. 

[38]Ibid., 31. 

[39]Ibid., 36. JOHN PAUL II makes this clarification: “I am referring to the fact that even the decision to invest in one place rather than another, in one productive sector rather than another, is always a moral and cultural choice”. 

[40]JOHN PAUL II, Message for the World Day of Peace 1990, 15. 

[41]Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Message for the XV World Day of Social Communications 1981, 3. 

[42]SECOND ECUMENICAL VATICAN COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 3. 

[43]Ibid., 40. 

[44]JOHN PAUL II, Discourse to the Bishops of Liguria (January 5, 1982), 5. 

[45]SECOND ECUMENICAL VATICAN COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 32. 

[46]Cf. SECOND ECUMENICAL VATICAN COUNCIL, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 1. 

[47]PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi (December 8, 1975), 40. 

[48]Ibid., 63 (cf. 59-64). 

[49]Cf. PIUX XII, Discourse to the World Congress of the “Skal-clubs” (October 29, 1952). 

[50]JOHN PAUL II, Discourse to the III World Congress of the Pastoral Care of Tourism (October 9, 1984). 

[51]PAUL VI, Apostolic Letter Apostolicae caritatis (March 19, 1970).  

[52]JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus (June 28, 1988), 151. 

[53]Without prejudice to what is set down in art. 46 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus regarding the competencies of Section II of the Secretariat of State. 

[54]SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree Christus Dominus, 37. 

[55]JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Apostolos suos (May 21, 1998), 22. 

[56]CIC, can. 447. 

[57]The nature and mission of these Centers are described by the PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR CULTURE in For a Pastoral Care of Culture (May 23, 1999), 32. 

[58]PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE PROMOTION OF CHRISTIAN UNITY, Directory for Ecumenism (March 25, 1993), 102-142, 161-162. 

[59]Cf. CIC, can. 451. 

[60]Cf. CIC, can. 459, 511. 

[61]SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Apostolicam actuositatem, 10. 

[62]Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Dies Domini (May 31, 1998), 35-36. 

[63]Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Discourse to the Congregation for the Clergy (October 20, 1984), 6. 

[64]SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 45. 

[65]Cf. PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE PASTORAL CARE OF MIGRANTS AND ITINERANT PEOPLES, The Pilgrimage in the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 (April 25, 1998), 9-11. 

[66]Cf. Ibid., 24-31. 

[67]ST. AUGUSTINE, Confessions, 1,1,1: CSEL 33,1. 

[68]ST. AUGUSTINE, Confessions, 10, 27, 38: CSEL 33, 255 1,1,1: CSEL 33,1. 

[69]JOHN PAUL II, Message for the 22nd World Day of Tourism 2001, 5. 

[70]Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 63.