MESSAGE OF CARDINAL ANGELO SODANO
Travel and transportation:
To His Eminence Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao,
The celebration of the World Day of Tourism this 27 September offers the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI an opportunity to extend a cordial thought to all those involved in the vast world of tourism and to highlight the Church's pastoral concern for them. The World Tourism Organization has chosen a most interesting theme for the event: Travel and transportation: from the imaginary world of Jules Verne to the reality of the 21st century.
Jules Verne was a man of letters, a traveller and a writer with a lively imagination. In his writings he intelligently combined fantasy and the scientific knowledge of his time. His voyages, whether real or imaginary, were in fact an invitation to consult the new atlas and a challenge to face responsibly and humanly limits that could no longer be dissembled.
At the end of the 19th century, in his incredible journey, Jules Verne crossed the limits imposed by the dominant culture of his time and its vision of the European West as the be-all and end-all.
Today, too, there are obstacles to be surmounted if one desires the benefits of tourism, travelling and transportation to be extended to everyone. New and unheard of possibilities for travel with ever more modern and faster means of transport can make tourism a providential opportunity to share the goods of the earth and of culture.
A century after the death of Jules Verne, much of what he imagined has become accessible and has taken a concrete form. The dream of a tourism without borders that could contribute to creating a better future for humanity is coming true.
The tourist industry, however, must always take into account the ethical requirements bound to tourism. It is important that those with responsibility in this sphere - politicians and legislators, people in government or in finance - should promote a peaceful encounter between peoples, guaranteeing security and good communications.
The promoters, organizers and all who work in the tourist sector are called to create structures that make tourism healthy, popular and economically sustainable, always keeping clearly in mind that in every activity, hence, also in tourism, the ultimate goal must always be respect for the human person, in the interests of the common good.
Tourists must be motivated by the desire to meet others, respecting their personal, cultural and religious differences; they must be ready for and open to dialogue and understanding, and their behaviour must be respectful, supportive and peace-loving.
Christian communities have a role of considerable importance: in welcoming tourists, they must feel committed to offering them the possibility of discovering the riches of Christ incarnate, not only through monuments and religious art works but also in the daily life of a living Church. Moreover, since the beginning of Christianity, journeys have made possible and facilitated the dissemination of the Good News in every corner of the world.
In the hope that the upcoming World Day of Tourism will bear the fruits desired, His Holiness Benedict XVI assures you of his remembrance in prayer and very gladly imparts his Apostolic Blessing to all.
I make the most of this opportunity to express my high esteem to you.
Yours most devotedly in the Lord,
Cardinal Angelo Sodano,
From the Vatican, 16 July 2005
*L'Osservatore Romano. Weekly Edition in English n°31 p.8.