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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 102, December 2006



Interview by Vatican Radio 

 with H.E. Msgr Agostino Marchetto

about World Tourism Day 2006*



Q. First of all, your Excellency, why is your Pontifical Council taking part in World Tourism Day with a Message?

A. The Holy See could establish a World Tourism Day, with its own fixed date, regarding themes problems and issues debated by the international community and United Nations organisations, on an annual basis. This is the case for World Peace Day, held on 1 January each year, and Migrants and Refugees Day, held on the second Sunday after Epiphany, if this is celebrated on 6 January. But there are other circumstances in which the Holy See, and therefore the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, for example, join in with an international celebration – for historical and traditional reasons, I would say – as is the case with this international day organised by the World Tourism Organisation. I mentioned our Pontifical Council, because the pastoral care of itinerant people, we have, also includes tourists.

Q. You spoke about the pastoral care of tourists. Why pastoral? 

 A. Indeed, our responsibility, which has its source in the Holy Father’s pastoral care, is the reason for our intervention. This pastoral tone comes across in the Message which, is particularly aimed at our correspondents, priests and pastoral workers, Episcopal Promoters, etc. in the various Bishops’ Conferences and the corresponding bodies in the Eastern Catholic Churches. This year the document is also somewhat poetic, as we are convinced that, after the Holy Scripture, true poetry is able to convey an element of the eternal and ever fresh beauty that tourists may glimpse in contemplating nature, and also – in a certain sense – via human genius that particularly appears in works of art. 

Q. Could you outline the main points of the Message?

 A. We have dealt with the theme “Tourism Enriches” by developing the following initial synthesis: “Tourism – a rapidly spreading phenomenon – opens up new opportunities for encounter, encourages development, and even provokes panic and challenges ethical awareness”. These aspects were then taken up again by emphasising the importance of meeting with people, using the images of a window and an icon, whose encounter should give rise to solidarity. Indeed, “the economic and financial system is not unique, but rather hegemonic, and is not the best but the present system, a source of great imbalances. What remains is the impression of a humanity that is much richer when the windows of the system are opened up to others, thereby giving access to the cultural, historical, natural, aesthetic, human and spiritual treasures that each people jealously guards to a greater or lesser extent. Tourism enriches precisely insofar as it helps in rendering the so-called 'rich' systems 'relative' and opens them up to the perception of other forms of 'being rich'”. We conclude that mankind is “the most precious heritage”, also from the point of view of tourism.

Regarding the negative aspects of tourism that, given this year’s theme, are not dealt with, but which do exist, reference should be made, for example, to Supplement No. 96, of our review “People on the Move”, which published the proceedings of our Fourth World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism held in Bangkok in 2004. 

*Radiogiornale, 29th August 2006.