Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
3rd European Congress
on Shrines and Pilgrimages
Shrine of Montserrat (Barcelona, Spain) March 4 to 7, 2002
a place for a fraternal and universal welcome”
The Bishops, the Rectors of the Shrines, the Directors of pilgrimages and the
pastoral workers from 23 countries meeting at the Third European Congress on
Shrines and Pilgrimages in Montserrat, Spain, from March 4-7, 2002:
1. We thank the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and
Itinerant People and the Montserrat Shrine, the promoters of the Third European
Congress, for organizing the meeting.
2. We are grateful to the Community of the Benedictine Monks of Montserrat for
the wonderful, fraternal hospitality they offered us.
We also express our gratitude to the institutions, agencies
and volunteers who offered their collaboration to the Congress.
3. At the conclusion of these days of reflection, prayer and life together, we,
the 190 participants in the Congress, wish to address our brothers and sisters
who carry out their ministry in Shrines and in the direction of the pilgrimages,
in order to share the experience we had during the meeting.
4. We discover in the Word of God the presence of the Lord who, from the
beginning, has visited man and calls him to filial communion. He “has
visited his people”; He accompanies them over the course of history and renews
the Covenant. He has visited us in Christ the Lord who accompanies His
pilgrim Church in time and makes His voice resound in each one’s heart.
5. We would like to welcome those who visit our Shrines knowing that we are
witnesses to God’s goodness and particularly close to those who suffer most,
the marginalized, the excluded and the weary. We would like to make the
Church’s countenance visible, a body that takes on the joys and sorrows of all
and is the sacrament of salvation in Jesus Christ.
6. We note the great diversity of reasons that drive visitors to Shrines. In
addition to those who make the religious act of the pilgrimage, many people
visit Shrines out of fidelity to a personal, family or popular memory, moved by
a cultural interest, a desire to draw nearer to nature, the search for a calm
environment favorable for reflection, etc. The history of every individual
person and the identity of each Shrine shape the plurality of reasons which
basically tend towards the search for God that each one harbors deep in his
7. We affirm the appropriateness of drawing up guidelines which will enable us
to understand and appreciate the different reasons for visits to Shrines so as
to offer a more suitable and familiar hospitality to all, both through the
celebrations and carefully prepared informative material, with the help of
adequately trained guides or in properly guided traditional ways.
8. We therefore invite everyone to join in our commitment to adopt the
exhortation the Holy Father John Paul II made to us at the opening of our
Congress so that the Shrines will be a “privileged image of the Church”,
which is always attentive to the breath of the Spirit, open to all, and
committed to building peace and fraternity.
9. At this time, we would like to mention some situations that deeply concern us
and we make a general appeal for their constructive solution:
- We ask for peace among nations
so that no one will be discriminated against or suffer violence because of his/her
religion or origin;
- We strongly request that
progress be made in an effective peace process for the Middle East, and we
express solidarity with our Christian brothers, the guardians of the pilgrimage
places in the Holy Land;
- We echo the words of the Holy
Father lamenting the marginalization of religions in the constitutional process
undertaken by the European Union, where no mention is made about the Christian
religious reality that is a part of the European identity, to which our Shrines
and Ways of pilgrimage are authentic witnesses.
10. We implore the protection of Mary, the Mother of God, the “Moreneta”
venerated in this Shrine of Montserrat, whose presence has guided our reflection
during these days. May she help us to exercise our ministry so that Shrines
will always be a place of fraternal and universal hospitality.