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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 96 (Suppl.), December 2004






Archbishop Agostino MARCHETTO

Secretary of the Pontifical Council

for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People



Your Eminences,

Your Excellencies,

Reverend Monsignors,

Reverend Fathers and Sisters,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honor for me to begin the reflections for the VI World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism by sharing with you some thoughts on the theme that we are going to work on. I will do this according to our Pontifical Council’s specific approach, that is, from the pastoral point of view. As a matter of fact, scientific analysis of the phenomenon of tourism is not our primary concern, and much less is the opening of new tour routes. Our Dicastery, which, by definition, is the expression of the Holy Father’s solicitude for all particular Churches, tries its best to listen to those who carry out pastoral work in this sector, share their concerns and hopes, bearing in mind the treasure of the Church’s teaching. In this way, we hope to receive recommendations from experts and, finally, offer some suggestions to respond to new situations. Here, too, tradition and innovation go hand in hand. Under such dynamics, a World Congress like the one we are holding, is an important milestone for the work of everyone and, I dare say, of the whole Church, in the field of human mobility, sign of the times and a call to commitment in (new) evangelization and human promotion. 

1. From the World Congress of Ephesus to this day

Along this line, it is appropriate to consider the period that goes from the last World Congress to this day. The meeting in Ephesus closed with a triple recommendation. First, it was proposed “that the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, in joint agreement with the Episcopal Conferences, promote study meetings at a continental level.” Second, it was recommended that a theological-pastoral document on tourism be published. Lastly, it was earnestly solicited that “better communication between those who work in the sector of the pastoral care of tourism and in that of the pastoral care of pilgrimages and shrines be promoted.” 

As far as our Pontifical Council is concerned, these three objectives guided our work, and I believe I can say that we have accomplished them very satisfactorily. In this regard, we were able to count on the priceless guidance of His Holiness Pope John Paul II who, starting from the year 2000, annually signed a Message on the occasion of World Tourism Day. These texts are a precious teaching on the most recent aspects that have absorbed the attention of the tourism sector. They have laid out a pastoral guideline that is fundamentally one of dialogue in the field of this important social and economic phenomenon at a worldwide level, derived from the commitment of the Church in new evangelization.

For this reason, our Pontifical Council reserves a specific attention to the Pastoral Care of Tourism and has included it in its Plenary Assemblies, now celebrated every two years. Specifically, in the Assembly held in May, 2002, we reflected on tourism and the sea, including tourism on cruises, one of the forms of tourism that has had a greater increase during these last years. 

Thus, following the recommendations of Ephesus, in June 2001, the Pontifical Council published the “Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of Tourism”, which updated the “General Directory of the Pastoral of Tourism”. The latter was written far back in 1969, but it contains a prophetic vision that has made many of its teachings permanently valid. 

To make these documents better known and translated into concrete pastoral programmes, again following the resolutions of the Congress of Ephesus, we held some meetings at the regional and continental levels. Hence, the delegates of the Pastoral Care of Tourism in Europe gathered together on two occasions, in 1999 and in 2001, while in April 1999, the Ist Latin American Seminar on the Pastoral Care of Tourism, which we promoted jointly with CELAM, was held in Cartagena, Colombia. Similarly, in March 2003, a Meeting was held in Beyrouth, Lebanon, on the Pastoral Care of Tourism and of Pilgrimages in the Countries of the Middle East and North Africa. This took place shortly before the war in Iraq, which in some way tells of our conviction and our efforts … in spite of everything.

In some countries (France, Italy, Spain and Mexico), there were also National Assemblies on the Pastoral Care of Tourism, held annually in some cases. Under other circumstances, we took advantage of International Fairs (as in Milan, Berlin, Brussels) to hold a study day. The Pontifical Council was present in many of these occasions. 

World Tourism Day, initiated by the World Tourism Organization, is celebrated on 27th September each year. In many countries, this has been a fitting opportunity to widen interest in the pastoral care in this sector. However, it is necessary to insist on the need to organize this celebration in a more generalized and orderly manner. If Tourism Day were celebrated on 27th September world-wide, it could be echoed better by the mass media, as well as by the political authorities and tour operators. This would give the message offered by the Church a greater resonance, much more than if the celebration were done locally on different dates. 

Another aspect, equally attended to by our Pontifical Council, must be added to those directly related with tourism. I mean the Pastoral Care of Pilgrimages which, in the terminology often used by international organizations, could be included in “religious tourism”. In addition to visiting places of a religious character, the itinerary that both the organizers of pilgrimages and the pilgrims themselves propose often includes time for cultural visits or rest. The Pontifical Council has undertaken numerous activities in this regard and I shall simply enumerate them. In 1999, two documents were published, respectively on the Pastoral Care of Shrines and on Pilgrimages. Among the regional activities in this regard, I wish to highlight the European Congresses (in Pompei, Italy, in 1998; in Montserrat, Spain, in 2002; and in a few weeks, in Kevelaer, Germany). Still in Europe, there were two Congresses of Cities that are Shrine Locations and Pilgrimage Destinations (in Czestochowa, Poland, in 1999 and in Fátima, Portugal, in 2001). Furthermore, in November 2002, the III Latin American Congress of Shrines was held in Santiago de Chile. Finally, in October 2003, the I Asian Congress of Pilgrimages and Shrines took place in Manila, Philippines.

The third proposal of the Congress of Ephesus also received a response from our Pontifical Council. In fact, with a few exceptions, our Bulletin was circulated every trimester. It gave information on ongoing activities and news from our Pontifical Council as well as from other sources. Just as important is its diffusion through the Internet website of the Vatican (, where everyone may find the text of almost all interventions of the Pontifical Council in the different sectors of human mobility. There, you will also find the articles, documents and reports published in the review People on the Move, which we recommend to your attention once more. 

Finally, I wish to mention a recent publication that aims to animate the spiritual dimension of our pastoral work: the “Rosary of Migrants and Itinerant People”. For every mystery, it cites a biblical text, quotes an excerpt of a document of the Church’s Magisterium and suggests an intention, taking into consideration the different sectors that make up the pastoral concern of the Pontifical Council, evidently, including tourism and pilgrimages.

As you can see, these have been five years full of activities and, we believe, significant for the Pastoral Care of Tourism. I would also like to stress with gratitude and appreciation, that this pastoral care has been encouraged by the teaching of the Holy Father dealing specifically with this important aspect of contemporary society. I, of course, do not wish to leave out the great and generous commitment of the person-in-charge and the official who work especially in the Sector of Tourism and Pilgrimages in our Pontifical Council. I mean Msgr. Gayà and Doctor Schiavetti. We wish to acknowledge publicly their work, which is often hidden but always generous and of value. 

2. The Eucharistic Mystery, “center and root” of all pastoral action

We have come together now in this VI World Congress, to continue our reflections and our pastoral work in the world of tourism. We have a very beautiful and programmatic theme: “Tourism aimed at bringing peoples together”. In this regard, I wish to begin with the words of Pope John Paul II in his Message for the World Tourism Day during the Jubilee Year 2000, in which he affirmed: 

    If it is inspired by the Jubilee spirit, tourism can, in fact, become a providential opportunity for meeting others and a valuable occasion for solidarity.

    First of all, an opportunity for meeting others. In the Jubilee the Church proclaims that 2,000 years ago God came in person to speak to man of himself and to show him the path by which he may be reached (Tertio millennio adveniente, no. 6). The divine initiative taken then continues to increase its effectiveness today, enabling human beings of every age, and thus our contemporaries as well, to have a personal experience of Christ's presence in their own history.

    The place where this encounter occurs is first and foremost the celebration of the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. In these sacraments, however, it is the inner life that finds its meaning and direction in the light that shines from faith. In this regard, holidays and journeys can be beneficial times for filling gaps in one's humanity and spirituality.

    I firmly hope [writes the Holy Father, to conclude] that tourism will always be an occasion for fruitful encounters: the encounter with God, who shows us his love and his providence in Creation and human achievement; the encounter with oneself, in the silence of reflection and interior listening; the encounter with others, to foster peaceful harmony among individuals and peoples (Message 2000, 3-4).

As an immediate continuation of these words of the Holy Father, allow me to add an excerpt from our “Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of Tourism”, where we read: “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, 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” (Guidelines, no. 19).

This is therefore the culminating encounter of Christians that are brought together, pointed out by the theme of our Congress. The Eucharist, which is source and summit, must give meaning and unity to all our pastoral action in the varied, and often contradictory, world of tourism. This is why, as the Holy Father says: “Every commitment to holiness, every activity aimed at carrying out the Church's mission, every work of pastoral planning, must draw the strength it needs from the Eucharistic mystery and in turn be directed to that mystery as its culmination” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, no. 60).

3. Tourism, a “providential opportunity for meeting others”

The Jubilee Message of His Holiness also speaks of a “providential opportunity for meeting others” (cfr. Pontifical Message for World Tourism Day 2004, nos. 1 and 4). Well then, all of you know the reality of the phenomenon of tourism. Indeed, your pastoral work gives you the opportunity to observe the various aspects and concrete circumstances in which it takes place. Therefore, you certainly have had the occasion to gather testimonies, maybe divergent ones, regarding its effects on the tourist himself, on the members of the receiving communities, as well as on the receiving country and its economy. You know well the promises with which tourism is promoted, assuring people of the satisfaction of their innermost yearnings, easily considered left unsatisfied under the conditions of their ordinary daily life. All these themes been the object of continuous reflection on our part and have found answers in the initiatives carried out by the Pastoral Care of Tourism. This reflection will continue in these days, during which we will have the chance to know the evolution of tourism in these last years.

At any rate, the theme of the Congress mentions the word “meeting”. This denotes a happening that our contemporary world considers a necessity, experienced at times also as an urgent challenge, unfortunately with possible clashes. In effect, contemporary man frequently feels, with anguish, that community ties are getting lost and the reasons for solitude are increasing. Visible frontiers and, in a particular way, those that are invisible, but cruelly and devastatingly present, divide countries into hemispheres of wealth and poverty, incite terrorist confrontation, whose basis are found also in cultures and in religions, divide societies into citizens and immigrants, dissolve unity in the family, disturb the individual. Caught in this network, entire populations experience lack of solidarity and the tragedy of solitude in hunger, sickness, illiteracy, unemployment, in refugee camps, in anonymity in big cities or in the soulless automatism of work, in the cold atmosphere in a world that knows only competition, individual and egotistic success. 

It is therefore logical – and this is an evident consequence of human nature – that, in spite of everything, the human person feels the need of a meeting, to re-connect ties that keep him going, that give him back a feeling of humanity. This can come about only from a meeting with the other, from approaching, seeing, talking to, “being with”, in a word, from “visiting” the other: “and they stayed with him that day. It was about 4 p.m.” (Jn 1:39). 

These terms are also repeated in many “slogans” that describe, exalt and advertise tourism. They are certainly not their exclusive characteristic. Similar words ring out in many other events in our contemporary world. Through the use of an implicit term, they manifest the desire for peace, which brings mankind together, precisely due to the anguish that its absence provokes. 

And - what a historical paradox! - it is significant to note that men and women all over the world are certain that there are sufficient means to overcome the obstacles to peace, universal peace. This could be technical progress, but also, or even more important, new cultural and political customs that offer real possibilities for this process, wherein mankind is viewed as a family of peoples. It is therefore not a mere desire, an illusion, or a dream, but a real opportunity that can be achieved by hard work, with tenacity and a great commitment, and which is almost within our reach. We believe that it is possible, with that Catholic optimism – I suppose – that considers original sin as a wound, yes, but not the destruction of the inherent goodness in man, who is God’s creature.

In this world that yearns for peace and encounter and foresees the possibility to achieve it, the Church is there as a “sacrament of unity”, a Eucharistic “presence”, in the most profound sense of the term. Pope John Paul II reminds us of this in the encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia: “The seeds of disunity, which daily experience shows to be so deeply rooted in humanity as a result of sin, are countered by the unifying power of the body of Christ. The Eucharist, precisely by building up the Church, creates human community” (no. 24) and a community among peoples. The Pastoral Care of Tourism cannot consider its mission from another point of view.

4. Tourism, a factor of meeting among peoples

Tourism, in fact, is a phenomenon that, aside from providing personal fulfillment and satisfaction, has become an important factor in establishing new relations among peoples and nations, brought about, most of all, through the process of globalization. This is evidently because of its economic effects or of the homogenous legislation that it encourages. However, what is even more important is its cultural impact, in the broadest sense of the term.

The Pastoral Care of Tourism, therefore, will have to give priority attention to this theme, on which also the Pontifical Council has made its reflections in its recent Instruction Erga migrantes caritas Christi. The document, in fact, affirms that “the passage from monocultural to multicultural societies can be a sign of the living presence of God in history and in the community of mankind, for it offers a providential opportunity for the fulfillment of God’s plan for a universal communion” (no. 9).

Tourism contributes to this change, in a way that is different from or complementary to what the migration phenomenon, for example, offers. Since tourism generally takes place during a brief period of time, it could acquire elements of superficiality and cause “mimetism” or “museumism”, even in meetings among religions. On the contrary “universal communion” is based on the full awareness of one’s own identity as a people and on appreciating that of others (cfr. EMCC, no. 35). Furthermore, it requires the profound conviction that all persons and all peoples are equal in dignity (cfr. EMCC, no. 27).

The Church which, by its very nature, has experienced universality, catholicity, is in the position to understand and appreciate what is positive in these new phenomena of “human universality”. At the same time, inspired by the light of Pentecost, it has adequate criteria for the defense of this process in the wake of the dangers of confusion that threaten it (cfr. EMCC, no. 16).

Thus, the Pastoral Care of Tourism will have to face this extraordinary process of human history. By its specific reality, it is responsible for gathering Christians together around the table of the Lord, so that they may be leaven of communion among visitors and hosts, among agents and workers in tourism, a guarantee of respect for Creation and builders of the brotherhood among peoples. 

5. Pastoral instruments to promote “encounters” 

Undoubtedly, there are many pastoral initiatives in this sector that we may call “traditional”, taken in the context of encounters. Already the “General Directory” of 1969 clearly stated: “Tourism, as a symptom of union and peace, finds its focal axis in the Eucharist which is ‘signum unitatis et vinculum caritatis’ of the People of God and a vital cause of that freedom that leads only to good” (no. 19). For this reason, on one hand, it indicated that “the training of Christians to tourism is perfected in the celebration of the Eucharist” (íbid.), whereas, on the other hand, it underlined the means to be used to facilitate the participation of tourists in the liturgy. From this point of view, in many places, it has become customary to celebrate a “mass of the nations” at the time of the year when the presence of tourists is at its height. There are also many Bishops who, at the beginning of the “tourist” season, write a pastoral letter to the faithful and to the visitors. Finally, it is also quite frequent that parishes, by themselves or together, announce in writing or through the mass media the timetable of the liturgical celebrations. Even the material construction of a church is acknowledged as an eloquent sign that merits to receive the most adequate resources, in the service of the evangelizing presence of the Church in the ‘areopagus’ of tourism. In his encyclical on the Eucharist, in fact, the Holy Father reminded us that: “Like the woman who anointed Jesus in Bethany, the Church has feared no “extravagance”, devoting the best of her resources to expressing her wonder and adoration before the unsurpassable gift of the Eucharist” (EE, no. 48). Its invitation to continue this tradition, by incorporating in it expressions of modern art and of the different cultures, is particularly appropriate in the sphere of the pastoral care of tourism.

In this very context, we need to mention ecumenical collaboration as something that has already become ‘traditional’ enough. More and more, it is becoming one of the distinguishing marks of the pastoral care of tourism. Mutual help among the Churches and ecclesial communities has already born fruits of maturity, including some ‘ecumenical centers’ that are jointly planned and managed. 

Taking into consideration all the experiences mentioned above, it will be necessary to face the new challenge of inter-religious dialogue, which international tourism poses to us with increasing intensity. In this sense, an initial card to play is the cultural patrimony of the Church, important for its value as a symbol and pre-proclamation of the Gospel. From a context that can be extended to the whole sphere of inter-religious dialogue, the Final Document of the First Meeting on the Pastoral Care of Tourism in the Middle East and North Africa affirmed: “The patrimony of a local Church reflects its own personality within the framework of the Universal Church; it is a proof of its roots and a factor of the identity as well as the communion of people with their own community; it is a source of culture and spirituality; it exercises a force of attraction both to the faithful of that Church as well as to others, in the measure by which it reveals a common background of civilization and brings with it universal values” (no. 16).

Thus, the local community has a very important place in this field. Tours, in effect, can offer the visitor a unique occasion to come in contact with other religions, know their spirituality and appreciate their values. The local community, therefore, should serve as an interpreter for the visitor who is open and interested, and supply him with an appropriate key in understanding the situation, rooted in the cultural and historical co-habitation of these religions. Besides, through co-operation among various countries in the pastoral care of tourism, the witness of the local community may be utilized in preparing people who plan to travel, through programs provided by their countries or Churches of origin.

As these few observations suggest, the Pastoral Care of Tourism more and more needs the support of a network of communication and exchange among the local Churches. Instruments at the local level, both in welcoming tourists and in preparing people to travel, as well as assistance given to workers in the sector and to tour operators, must be increased and developed. At the same time, it is also urgent to set up beforehand and strengthen structures that allow regional and international co-operation. In this way, it would be easier to raise a prophetic voice, in solidarity, against abuses in tourism and to offer effective collaboration to those who are working for a tourism “with human features”, one that respects nature and the cultural, social and religious patrimony of the different nations.

6. Some aspects of the Pastoral Care of Tourism that are more urgent today. 

Since the Pastoral Care of Tourism calls upon the whole ecclesial community and needs everyone to carry out its evangelizing action, the diocesan Bishop, priests, religious men and women, lay people – each one according to his own ministry, charism and the concrete circumstances of life – are called to live the reality of tourism in a Christian way or, calling to mind our initial reflections, “eucharistically”, in the most profound sense of the term. 

Tourism and free time, though for opposing reasons at times, form part of the “normal” reality of our society. Thanks be to God, the awareness of this fact has made the pastoral care of tourism become more and more an integral part of the “ordinary” pastoral care of the Church. In reality, a greater part of it is still entrusted to territorial, parochial action.

This reality, however, has sometimes left in the shadows some aspects of a specific pastoral care that we should not forget. In fact, people consider vacation time as anthropologically differentiated, with very peculiar characteristics. These aspects mark everything that is related to this world: from the customs that make up social life to religious practices, to family or labor relations, to mention some among many other aspects. Furthermore, the human group, that results from all this, is made up of people with different origins. In it there is a meeting of cultures, ages, religious and moral attitudes that are quite different from one another. In brief, the world of tourism has its own peculiar identity, with specific psychological, social, economic and even aesthetic components. This specificity must be provided with a corresponding specific pastoral practice, based on a systematic study of this reality and on a theological and ecclesial reflection in this milieu. 

We must therefore intensify the inclusion of the study of tourism in the academic centres of the Church, promote observatories of the regional or local reality, achieve the formation of some specialists, who can give advice and help to the other pastoral agents in the dioceses/eparchies. Furthermore, it will be indispensable to rely on the advice and professional counsel of Christian “technicians” who are experts in the issue under consideration, be it for their entrepreneurial activity, their work in labor unions or their affiliation to academic institutions, associations and organizations related to tourism.  

For this reason, the affirmation that the pastoral care of tourism must be integrated more and more into the “ordinary” pastoral care does not, by any means, exclude the need to have specialized diocesan/eparchial teams as well as national and synodic groups. Similarly, international co-operation is necessary, carried out especially through our Pontifical Council.

The instruments and the recipients of the Pastoral Care of Tourism, two of the themes that we shall discuss during these days, have persuaded me to indicate specifically that we should bear in mind the social or charitable dimension, also as an essential component of every pastoral care. Of the two themes I mentioned, I shall refer to social tourism, under the first, and to the need to put up a crucial and effective strategy against the so-called sex tourism, under the second.

Regarding social tourism, Professor Norberto Tonini, who will address us tomorrow, will allow me to quote a small part of his talk before the recent Assembly of the BITS, in which he called for what he termed as “development tourism”. These words open a very vast field of action. To my understanding, “development tourism” invites pastoral care to be concerned with making tourism accessible to those who, at times, need it most, i.e. families with limited economic resources, persons who are alone, young people who find it difficult to socialize, etc. On the other hand, in the receiving countries, “development tourism” calls us to support the small tourism enterprises, family endeavors, activities of co-operatives or indigenous communities, and to keep in touch with labor unions, ecology movements, social or civic associations, etc. 

The other theme I am referring to will also be studied specifically in these days. “Sex tourism” is a shameful and barbaric wound. Only hypocrisy, that is almost universal, prevents us from determining in profundity its devastating effects. Luckily, although very slowly, some initiatives have come up with the intention of fighting this situation. Undoubtedly these are praiseworthy initiatives that deserve our collaboration, but their efficacy leaves us with a question, as in many other occasions: How far is public opinion convinced in welcoming them and not merely regard them as a mechanism to leave consciences in peace? It is therefore necessary to maintain a critical vision, without giving way to any kind of permissiveness or any degree of tolerance in this matter.

In this context, our Pontifical Council echoes the words of His Holiness Pope John Paul II who, in his Message for the World Tourism Day of 2001, welcomed with appreciation the publication of the “World Ethical Code for Tourism”, adopted by the World Tourism Organization. The constitution of a Committee to monitor the observance of the aforementioned Code, as well as other initiatives of the WTO in the specific field of “sex tourism”, is a sign of a greater awareness in the world, determined to face the deep roots of this evil. 

In spite of all this, it is necessary for our pastoral attention to go much beyond mere help – that must be given completely and urgently – to the victims of economic exploitation for sex reasons. It must even go beyond understanding the poverty situation that promotes it and resolving that we must do all that we can to stop it. It is necessary that we face this problem from the point of view of our faith, which reveals to us the root of sin growing in the human heart and absolutely needing Christ’s grace in order to be purified and converted. We must therefore address a more determined pastoral attention to tourists, in their country of origin, to know the reasons that make them take such decisions, make them understand the gravity of the crime they thus commit, and try to convince them, using all the means at our disposal, to give up their intentions and change their behaviour. Undoubtedly, in the tourists’ country of origin, legal means can also help counter this sin, which is also a social sin 

7. Conclusion

Light and shadows – we have often repeated – accompany the phenomenon of tourism. In acknowledging it, we cannot forget some verses of the Paschal sequence: 

Mors et vita duello

conflixere mirando:

dux vitae mortuus,

regnat vivus.

Almost as a commentary to these words, the “Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of Tourism” (no. 16) states: “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.” 

During these days, our reflection together should help us understand more clearly that everyone, visitors and hosts, should participate in this triple movement – celebration, encounters of persons and of peoples, and charity – thus making tourism a truly effective instrument for the construction of a world of peace and solidarity. Our reflections will guide us in delineating a pastoral action whose objective will be the creation of those conditions that would allow everyone – I repeat – visitors and hosts, to experience tourism as a providential opportunity for enriching encounters, an occasion to express universal brotherhood, stimulated by generosity. In a globalized world which is, however, at the same time more tragically divided, the great challenge is to stop thinking in terms of who “benefits” from tourism and who is “victimized” by it.