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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 102, December 2006



FINAL DOCUMENT of the Meeting of the National Directors of the Pastoral Care 

of Tourism in Europe

(Rome, 6th and 7th November 2006)


I. The Event 

Tourism, A Transversal Reality: Pastoral Aspects. With this central theme, the Meeting of the National Directors of the Pastoral Care of Tourism in Europe took place with the participation of delegates from 15 countries (Austria, Belgium, BelarusÂ’ Czech Republic, Cyprus, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland), and representatives of several Dicasteries and bodies of the Roman Curia, the Council of European BishopsÂ’ Conferences and the Vicariate of Rome. The two days of work, which took place on November 6th and 7th, 2006 in the offices of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People that organized the event, were an occasion to deepen fraternity and constructive dialogue.

To start, the participants celebrated the Eucharist, the fulcrum of ecclesial communion, with Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, the President of the Dicastery. In his homily, the Cardinal welcomed the participants and said that the proclamation of Jesus the Lord is and must be at the center of the pastoral care of tourism, which corresponds to humanityÂ’s search for God and its thirst for salvation. Then His Eminence the President commented on the texts of the dayÂ’s Liturgy. He recalled that the Gospel is a school of living together and asked for the protection of the Virgin Mary, icon of the Church, over these two days of work for the evangelization of tourism, a newAreopagus.

In his welcoming address to open the work of the meeting, Cardinal Martino returned to the priority of the proclamation of Jesus Christ and the importance of the pastoral aspects in the world of tourism. He then invited Europeans to rediscover their Christian roots based on the light that emanates from the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. His Eminence urged them to look for the way to a new evangelization, a new civilization of love and respect. Tourism is surely capable of giving a boost to values that underlie it since a great part of the monuments and works of art visited in Europe are of Christian inspiration. In fact, as the Cardinal went on to say, “European culture” is based, so to speak, on three pillars: Greek philosophy, Roman law and faith in Christ.

His Eminence thus encouraged the commitment to study in order to proclaim Christ today to tourists, to the visitors that come to Europe, to those who work intensely so that others can enjoy their free time and vacation, and to all those, in various capacities, who are linked to the world of tourism. In concluding, the Cardinal expressed the hope that in the two days of work, in a climate of serenity and dialogue, mutual listening, and above all “with open eyes and hearts”, some answers would be identified “for the good of those who have been entrusted to our pastoral care”.

The Secretary of the Pontifical Council, Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, in his intervention introducing the work of the meeting, invited also the participants to make use of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, properly interpreted, as a compass for present-day European society that is so strongly characterized by human mobility, of which tourism is a very relevant component.

Next, Archbishop Marchetto illustrated the theme of the meeting in its general aspect: that is, “tourism, a transversal reality”, because it affects various areas and influences different sectors of life and, in time, conditions their development. Afterwards the Archbishop made reference to the cultural, social, economic and human context of tourism. Going on to the pastoral aspects, he pointed out how transversality is also a characteristic of the relative specific pastoral care, which will have to expand its efforts ever more and be integrated into the ordinary pastoral care in sectors such as the family, school, youth, social promotion, justice and peace, and the management of cultural assets. Today another transversal pastoral aspect cannot be neglected: namely, attention to ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, while dialogue cannot be absent between the local Churches of origin and arrival of the tourists, for their effective spiritual and Christian aid. This too is a transversal theme.

Therefore, ways will have to be identified to strengthen the ChurchÂ’s presence in the world of tourism in view of evangelization and transversality, and to make use of the results achieved until now especially by taking into consideration the last World Congress in Bangkok, and the commitment to carry out its Recommendations.

Archbishop Marchetto stressed next the need to intensify collaboration with those who have responsibilities both in the public area and in private initiatives with regard to tourism. He emphasized again the need to deepen the formation of pastoral agents from a transversal viewpoint, and the hope for adequate preparation of the faithful so that they can help bring about a kind of tourism with a new face, capable of translating into reality its potentialities for dialogue and the promotion of peace, aid for development, and knowledge about the memory of other peoples: in short, for spiritual growth.

Subsequently, the voices of some National Delegates were heard.

For Austria, Rev. Fr. Joseph Farrugia, representing Mr. Anton Wintersteller, the President of the Work Circle for the Pastoral Care of Tourism, reported on the general situation with regard to his country. He stated that an increase has been recorded in the number of presences, especially in the cities. In particular, Vienna and Salzburg have received a greater number of visitors during this “Year of Mozart”. He added that from spring to autumn, the so-called “light summer tourism” is growing, and winter tourism is developing especially in the Tyrol and the province of Salzburg, and what is more, without causing harm to the environment. Likewise, a growing number of people benefit during vacations from the “wellness centers” and excursions. An increase is also recorded in pilgrimages and the so-called “meditation paths”.

With regard to pastoral care, Father Farrugia reported that in some cities the visitors receive printed material with words of welcome and religious information. Religious services destined for tourists are celebrated, as well as Mass in several languages, helped by the International Religious Center of Vienna (

He also gave information about the organization of seminars for “ecclesial guides”, with the creation of a website related to the “paths of pilgrimage” and the “meditation paths” (, and about a form of cooperation with the civil authorities on the subject of the “ethics of tourism”, the promotion of pilgrimages for those who work in the tourism sector, and conferences and symposiums on the occasion of the World Day.

The intervention of the National Commission of Belgium “Church and Tourism” was made by its President and Vice-President, Reverend Frs. Jacques Riga and Paul Van Zeir, who emphasized the following needs: to adapt the pastoral care of tourism to the current evolution of the tourist industry by deepening the aspects regarding spirituality and offering a religious and symbolic interpretation of religious heritage; to disseminate more and more competent information, both through the traditional means of communication and by using the modern Internet sites; to favor a policy of welcome and to train people to hospitality; to set up specific areas and take part in the formation of the personnel; to sensitize tourists to have “worthy and human” behavior, open to encounter (Christian and human virtues); to promote alternative and convivial forms of tourism; to have relations and create synergies with the professionals in this field and with tourist and cultural institutions, as well as with the Institutions and Organizations that work on the regional and national, European and world levels; to collaborate with all the bodies and pressure (moral) groups in favor of human dignity in this specific area; lastly, to make Christians who are involved in the pastoral care of tourism aware that in order to gain credibility, they have to be competent and demonstrate it actively.

The Most Rev. Bishop Ladislav Hucko, the Secretary General of the Czech BishopsÂ’ Conference, noted that the clergy and the faithful are realizing that they need to be more active in taking advantage of the pastoral opportunities that tourism offers today.

Throughout the Republic there are fine opportunities to spend vacation in places of prayer and meditation. They are visited not only by the faithful, but also by people in search of the deeper meaning of their lives and by persons who say they are atheists. The testimony of good services and the honesty of the personnel thus create a basis for beginning a deep relationship with the “clients”. In the Faculty of Theology of the University of Prague, an Institute for the History of Christian Art has been opened, but it is in an initial stage. Bishop Jucko added that it is hoped that new tourist guides will also come from there.

One of the possibilities still not exploited very much are the concerts in the churches of Prague that are visited by a great number of people.

The Most Rev. Bishop Antoni Dziemianko, Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Minsk-Mohilëv, presented the situation of tourism in BelarusÂ’ and pointed out that groups of young people make up the majority. They are accompanied by specialized guides who, on the occasion of visits to the churches, offer the priest the opportunity to speak and thus to present a spiritual message, with the transmission of moral values and an account of the life of the Saints. For many who have never heard about God, this can be a first contact with religion. Another way to reach the touristsÂ’ hearts with a message of faith is through the religious objects offered on the occasion of the visit. The Most Rev. Dziemianko also reported that he had taken part in a meeting, at the invitation of the Ministry for Tourism and Sports, on the development of tourism in BelarusÂ’ in which ecclesial collaboration in this regard was requested.

The Prelate reported that he has asked the ones he appointed to be responsible for the pastoral care of tourism in the Archdiocese to prepare guides for different tourist localities with attention to spiritual questions. He also invited the parish rectors to display information about the parish, with a plan to print “a small catechism for tourists”, which also contains the addresses of the churches and the priests. Bishop Dziemianko expressed the hope for greater collaboration with the travel agencies of Western Europe, in particular the Catholic agencies, so that there will be Russian-speaking tour guides in the places visited in Europe.

The Orthodox Church in BelarusÂ’, with its churches of historical and artistic interest and places of pilgrimage, intends to open a faculty with specialization in tourism.

Next, Rev. Fr. Umberto Barato, OFM, Patriarchal Vicar for Cyprus, explained that the island has become a vacation destination for many people, especially in the past forty years. In fact, its natural position, its landscape that extends from the beaches to the hills and to the mountains, the countless archeological sites, the mild climate and the hospitable attitude of its inhabitants make this island an ideal place for rest.

He added that most of the tourists are Europeans, especially English and Scandinavians. Their spiritual care is provided by the Anglican Church (Diocese of Cyprus and of the Gulf), by the Catholic Church through four parishes present in the main cities, by the Lutherans of Sweden and Germany, and by other Protestant denominations.

He emphasized that one particular aspect that should be mentioned concerns the significant number of religious marriages celebrated in the country, especially of couples from England, Scotland and Ireland. It seems, in fact, that many prefer to get married in Cyprus for the simple reason that it is cheaper for them. Lastly, Father Barato pointed out that the greatest concern with regard to the pastoral care of tourism is to offer the possibility to attend the celebration of Holy Mass, usually in English, and, with some frequency, the opportunity for confession.

Rev. Fr. Ilija Jakovljevič presented the report prepared by Father Marijan Jelenič, the National Director for the Pastoral Care of Tourism in Croatia, a country that records a great tourist influx, especially in the three summer months. In this period, in fact, almost ten million tourists are added to the 4.5 million inhabitants, with the resulting need for new investments in the sector for its modernization. The Church offers the visitors at least a greeting in different languages on the occasion of the Sunday Eucharist. In many churches a welcome poster is also displayed, as well as the Catholic press. At the beginning of the season, a “Christian message” linked to the presence of the visitors is disseminated. The Church, which is increasingly aware of the importance of doing more for the evangelization of this sector, is discovering the need to prepare texts with historical and religious information, or special printed material for the different religions about the local Saints, Christian customs and relations with the universal Church. The need is also felt to train tour guides in order to offer the guests a spiritual “welcome”, which modern man needs so much, even when he does not let this be seen explicitly.

Very Rev. Fr. Joseph Roduit, the Abbot of the Abbey of Saint-Maurice in French-speaking Switzerland, presented the report prepared by Canon Michel-Ambroise Rey on the pastoral care of tourism and free time in that part of his country. In fact, the BishopsÂ’ Conference has entrusted the Abbeys of Einsiedeln and Saint-Maurice with the responsibility for this pastoral care: the former for German-speaking Switzerland and the Ticino Canton, and the latter for French-speaking Switzerland. Abbot Roduit said that the countryÂ’s mountains and lakes attract tourists, especially in the summer and winter. So a particular effort has been made in the French-speaking dioceses to give the right value to this specific pastoral care and to favor hospitality for the visitors in religious structures, both Catholic and Reformed.

Father Roduit also stressed that there is concern about harmonizing the pastoral approaches, sensitizing the departure communities, and growing in mutual exchange, hospitality, listening, through parish meetings and organized visits. So during the Eucharistic celebrations, the participants are greeted in different languages. He concluded that there is a certain emulation among the tourist parishes, and an effort is made to promote meetings among the various protagonists of tourism.

Rev. Fr. Stefan Roth, President of the Commission for Tourism, Free Time and Pilgrimages for German-speaking Switzerland and the Ticino Canton, gave information about the contents of the Internet site created to sensitize pastoral agents and guests from the religious standpoint. The site offers pastoral agents the liturgical texts for the Sunday Mass, as well as information about questions regarding tourism, official Church documents and suggestions for pastoral care. The guests, on the other hand, can find indications therein about the most visited places of pilgrimage, information about Mass schedules, the cultural heritage and the Church in Switzerland.

In some regions of the country, the Commission organizes religious courses for ski instructors and mountain guides. At present, a study group is preparing a project to favor collaboration between the Church and the tourism sector, with the certainty that it can offer a lot on the cultural and spiritual level. Moreover, with the Reformed evangelicals, a collaboration is under way to provide ecclesial hospitality on the occasion of the 2008 European soccer championship. There is also a desire to encourage the parishes of the cities where the matches will take place to create meeting points for people of different languages and cultures.

Subsequently, the participants met in study groups to reflect on two subjects. The first was formulated in this way: “Moral and professional formation of those working in various capacities in tourism. What are the possibilities for creating courses in the Catholic and Pontifical Universities, as well as in the formation centers for priests and religious? To know where we are first, and then get those who are responsible involved”. The second was as follows: “In our ecclesial realities, which are already “transversal”, how can we respond to the phenomenon of tourism, which is also transversal? (In fact, it concerns various areas and influences various sectors of life.) How are we to help the local Churches that receive tourists and are poor in clergy, means, etc.?”

In the afternoon, some representatives of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia gave talks.

Rev. Msgr. Barnabé Nguyen Van Phuong, Office head at the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, took up the theme of tourism as an occasion for evangelization. He noted that while in past centuries missionaries left Europe to preach the Gospel in other continents, today people from there come to Europe and to Rome to listen to the Pope, to visit monuments, basilicas and Christian shrines. With regard to this new phenomenon, Christians are asking themselves in conscience how they can use the occasion offered in this way to give witness to Jesus Christ and proclaim his Gospel to our non-Christian brothers and sisters. Saint PaulÂ’s words, “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16), ought to be an urgent call to re-awaken the missionary conscience.

Concretely, two areas of action could be identified: 1) in Europe, where European and non-European, Christian and non-Christian tourists are welcomed, we need strong testimonies both from individuals and from the Christian communities. Close collaboration is thus encouraged between the local Churches and travel agencies and tour guides in order to make tourism a good occasion for evangelization. The papal Audiences offer a favorable occasion for catechesis. It would be useful to examine the possibly of offering tourists who do not know Italian a simultaneous translation of the PopeÂ’s catechesis, perhaps by using a transistor radio. 2) In other continents to which European tourists go, those who travel ought to be moved by the desire to meet others, to bring peace and also the Gospel, remembering that from the beginning of Christianity, voyages have made possible and facilitated spreading the Good News in every part of the world. Today tourism can thus be a fertile terrain for evangelization, with methodologies that need to be drawn up.

Rev. Msgr. Stefano Sanchirico, the representative of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Seminaries and Educational Institutions, felt that on the subject of the pastoral care of tourism he had to emphasize the importance of formation from three viewpoints. First, through space for research on the understanding and study of the tourism phenomenon, with its implications on the sociological, moral, etc. levels. This is a primary task of the study Centers, especially the Universities. Second, there is a need to train the Clergy and the pastoral agents in this sector that will involve the Seminaries and the Universities. Special mention should also be made of the scholastic formation in Catholic schools that are called to educate to conceive free time and tourism as a moment of growth of the human person. Therefore, it is important for the Catholic scholastic institutions to support a kind of tourism in which the local Churches meet with their history and spiritual riches.

Rev. Fr. Antonio Grappone, the representative of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, reported that his Dicastery is not directly concerned with sectorial pastoral problems; however, in the area of the tourism phenomenon it follows the formation in faith of the laity and the pastoral care of youth. He observed that the tourism phenomenon brings with it a consumerist and hedonistic vision extraneous to Christian life, which involves both the tourists and the workers in the sector. The need follows from this to strengthen basic Christian formation and offer occasions for spiritual assistance in the places where there is an influx of tourists. The Pontifical Council for the Laity has stressed the need many times to adopt effective instruments for formation and, among other things, it has dedicated three of its plenary Sessions to the Sacraments of Christian initiation.

With regard to youth tourism, Rev. Fr. Grappone noted that its organized forms are to a great extent directed towards the cities of art and include visits to churches and other significant monuments. Since the explanations offered by guides from the agencies or teachers are rather historical and aesthetic in nature, it would be advisable to entrust the visits to some more important places to guides authorized by the Dioceses who are properly trained. Lastly, to safeguard youth from forms of ‘wild’ tourism often marked by the use of drugs and alcohol and irresponsible sexuality, the World Youth Days have proven to be very positive events.

Msgr. Francesco Giovanni Brugnaro, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the World Tourism Organization spoke on the theme Ethical perspectives of the WTO for the development of tourism that respects human dignity in a fair sharing of the goods of culture and the beauties of the earth. The path of growth and the spread of the political, moral and cultural movement that intends to improve tourism have appeared to revolve today around the alternation of the adjectives sustainable, ethical and responsible, which should not be used as synonyms or there is the risk of confusing levels of value, action and perception that do not coincide. Sustainable refers in fact to considerations of a quantitative nature, development policies, economic improvement, and the stabilization of resources. Ethical, on the other hand, appeals to reason and the moral factor for the right quality, social equity and humanization as a rule for the planetary expansion of the market system of tourism. Responsible refers finally to cultural activity, the participation of the subjects of tourism, to critical awareness of the economist and developmental danger, and, above all, draws attention to respect and the education of every person.

In any case, tourism and free time must provide occasions for local tourist growth. The human person, moreover, must be seen as the fundamental ethical and juridical reference. Subsidiarity, solidarity and proportionality not only create well-being and benefit all the workers, but they also ensure against the negativity produced by the tourist impact. For lay Christians, the commitment holds to liberate tourism from the consumerist mentality and never separate personal good from the common good. The hedonistic, individualistic viewpoint that drives tourism must be overcome by recovering the ancient civilization of hospitality. Tourism of any kind must be seen as a way to a new proximity to the world and contemporary culture.

Subsequently, Rev. Msgr. Aldo Giordano, the Secretary General of the Council of European BishopsÂ’ Conferences, observed that the pastoral care of tourism expresses some fundamental concerns of the European BishopsÂ’ Conferences: the change in the role of the parishes and the priestly ministry; the crisis of the family; the emptying of values. But this specific pastoral care today can also read some especially interesting signs, namely: the spread of free tourism through the web; the celebration of entire peoples on the occasion of world soccer championships; the vacation-tourism connected with volunteering; the great spread of the pilgrimage. From the concerns and new signs, some fundamental challenges for the pastoral care of tourism can be identified. For Msgr. Giordano, this care can become a frontier laboratory for proclaiming a gospel that responds to peopleÂ’s desire, experiencing the great opportunity for todayÂ’s world of the Catholic dimension of Christianity, and lastly deepening the experience of ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue and rethinking the very concept of time.

On the second day of the meeting, the reports of the National Delegates continued.

Rev. Fr. Jacques Turck, the Director of the National Service for family and social questions in France, which now takes care of the pastoral care of tourism too, reported on the “National Days” that took place last March in Anglet with the participation of about 400 people. The main subject was the path of evangelization. In this regard, it stood out that the reduction of working hours in France (35 a week) has led to more free time, which can be the object of proposals to make it a strong time on both the spiritual and the family or convivial level, with the possibility of service to others.

Next, Father Turck took up the theme of internationalization and observed that today the great ease in movement is due to the opening of borders. In this regard, the Church in France would like to develop a pastoral care of encounter in free time and intensify attention for the professionals and people working in the tourism industry. At the same time, it would like to increase the sense of hospitality. In referring to the reform just set in motion by the French BishopsÂ’ Conference, Father Turck said that to favor the union between the diocesan bishop and the people involved in the diocese in this pastoral service, a specific episcopal Committee no longer exists. In the same way a liaison bulletin takes the place of the review Haltes.

Rev. Fr. Nikolaos Roussos, OFM Cap., representing Father Petros, the National Director of the Pastoral Care of Tourism in Greece, pointed out that his country is a vacation destination that is visited very much. This year more than 15 million tourists were recorded, while the country’s population does not exceed 11 million inhabitants. The Catholic Church, which has been involved in this pastoral care for decades, notes many changes in the sector. From a purely “Western” kind of tourism of some years ago, an imposing presence is recorded now of brothers and sisters from Eastern Europe, with Orthodox visitors and of other religions. So texts with the Ordinary of the Mass have been printed for the churches in eight languages (including Polish), and biblical readings are also offered in different languages through Sunday sheets. The tourists are well received in the Churches where an attempt is made to create a family atmosphere between the locals and the outsiders who are all our brothers and sisters in the universal Catholic Church. Unfortunately, the available forces are few compared to the needs. Moreover, emigration has increased the number of Catholics who are spread out in different places, while the priests are fewer due to the decrease in vocations. In this new reality, people must be taken care of, and they are often poor in material goods, but also lacking in the spiritual area in terms of knowledge about the faith and practice.

Rev. Fr. Mario Lusek, representing Msgr. Carlo Mazza, the Director of the National Office for the pastoral care of tourism, free time and sports in Italy, highlighted the conformity of such an Office with the guidelines of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and the reception of its recommendations. He then put the work of the pastoral care of tourism in Italy in the context of the document of the Italian Bishops entitled “Communicating the Gospel in a changing world”. He also illustrated the theological and pastoral acquisitions, a fruit of the reflection begun through congresses, internships, days of reflection and study seminars. Fr. Lusek then listed the resulting pastoral initiatives carried out and the work promoted and done by the Regional Commissions and the Diocesan Offices where they exist and are structured. Afterwards he illustrated the program of the National Office for next year and dwelt in particular on the project for a new figure: “the minister of hospitality” in tourism. Lastly, he indicated the new care for which the National Office will be responsible to expand the Church’s action in the world of tourism more and more on the territory, in the context of an integrated pastoral care in a network strategy.

Mrs. Rosemarie Rohmer-Strecker, of the National Center for the pastoral care of tourism of Luxembourg, announced that the pastoral activities aim to reach both arriving and departing tourists. These two dynamics delimit the field of action of the initiatives with an ecclesial character. Next, Mrs. Rohmer-Strecker enumerated some consolidated programs and new projects begun this year, in particular the preparation for the Pilgrimage of the Smiling Christ, which will take place in 2007, the year in which Luxembourg will be the cultural capital of Europe. In any case, collaboration with the travel agencies is valid in organizing itineraries of the spirit and carrying out the blessing of motorists and motorcyclists, as well as in encouraging safety on the highways and the concerts called Musical Voyages. During the summer, in the cathedral, areas are put at the visitorsÂ’ disposal for information and games for children. Mrs. Rohmer-Strecker added that the noon prayer with texts and music has proven to be very effective, and the visits guided by the students of ARC (Ars et fides) are also appreciated.

Rev. Fr. Stjepan Kusan, SJ, the representative of Macedonia, informed the participants that his country is attracting foreign tourists more and more. The local Church is looking for the way to get organized in order to be at their service too. So along with the ordinary pastoral activity, the need is felt to concentrate on the problems that accompany the phenomenon of the transversal reality of tourism: the encounter of cultures, the possible abuse of drugs or the exploitation of women and youth. The task still remains to collaborate with the Orthodox church in this area and to sensitize it to the pastoral care of tourism.

The Most Rev. Bishop Edward Janiak, the person in charge of the episcopal Commission for migrants, tourism and pilgrimages in Poland, reported that in every diocese there is a priest responsible for the pastoral care of tourism, which is coordinated on the level of the BishopsÂ’ Conference by the Bishop Promoter. Among the most outstanding initiatives, the Prelate mentioned the spiritual retreats for tour guides, which are organized yearly on the national level. This year 850 people from all over Poland took part in the retreat in Czestochowa. The interest of tourists is also growing in this Nation, which offers historic monuments, pilgrimage centers and places of worship where a profound Christian culture is manifested and attests to a lively faith and belonging to the Catholic church. The parish Rectors of tourist localities have been invited to take care of the groups of foreigners and show hospitality and notable openness to the different habits and religiosity. Particular attention is also given to the spiritual dimension of pilgrimages, which are always accompanied by a priest and organized in a way to ensure the daily celebration of Holy Mass, the recitation of the rosary and religious hymns.

Rev. Fr. Rui Manuel da Silva Pedro, CS, the Secretary of the Episcopal Commission for human mobility of Portugal, presented a synthesis of the answers to a survey conducted in 2004 regarding the pastoral care of tourism among the dioceses, and the conclusions of a Congress in Angra, in 2005.

Tourism in the country helps to preserve in believers and non-believers the memory of the values and symbols that are part of the peopleÂ’s Christian tradition. In Portugal and in Europe, memory is one of the great resources for a new evangelization and an incarnated spirituality in secularized society.

The Church hopes to find human resources in the near future to “re-launch” this pastoral care nationwide so that the exponents of the different dioceses can meet to share the activities that some are already carrying out. An on-going national coordination would be needed that is not only related to sporadic international events, such as, for instance, the Jubilee 2000, Expo ’98 and Euro 2004. A starting point for this transversal spirit made possible by tourism will be a National Pastoral Meeting in 2007.

Among the many proposals, there is one to offer information and a part of the liturgy in different languages during the parish celebrations in which sizeable groups of tourists take part, and another to make use of the Course on Internet “Tourism and the Religious Heritage”, of the Faculty of Theology and the Institute of Instruction and Formation at a Distance, promoted by the Portuguese Catholic University.

Rev. Fr. Sebastian Taltavull, the Director of the Secretariat of the Episcopal Commission for pastoral care in Spain, explained that this Commission has the fundamental task of working precisely for pastoral care. Each year it dedicates its attention to a theme of common interest in the area of the overall pastoral care through reflection on the doctrinal principles that illuminate it, while identifying some action guidelines and leaving the relative operational decisions to the individual dioceses. For this purpose, each year it invites the General Vicars and the Vicars of pastoral care to meet on the so-called “Days” (these are practically three days).

The global and transversal character of this pastoral care allows this Commission to act as a “bridge” with other specific Episcopal Commissions in their expression of practical pastoral care. In this sense, in addition to its basic work - which is the coordination of the Vicars of pastoral care, and starting from them, service to their respective particular Churches - the Commission is responsible, among other things, for coordinating three Departments of specific pastoral care: the pastoral care of health, of the deaf, and of tourism, shrines and pilgrimages. With the respective Directors of these three Departments a group work is carried out and all the activities planned are organized jointly. This experience of communion helps in planning new, common actions in the area of evangelization, which the different pastoral sectors request and need.

Rev. Fr. Josep-Enric Parellada, osb, the Director of the Department of tourism, shrines and pilgrimages of the BishopsÂ’ Conference of Spain, pointed out subsequently that in his country the reality of tourism, both domestic and foreign, is both varied and complex. Moreover, on the basis of 2005 statistical data, tourism has become the first industrial activity of the country, with an increase in the number of international tourists and the revenue derived from it. An increase has also been recorded in domestic tourism.

The new officers of the Department, who were appointed about a year ago, have made a study on the status quaestionis of the pastoral care of tourism in the countryÂ’s dioceses. As a consequence, an activity program for the next two years was drawn up to respond to the new needs and priorities that emerged. On the basis of this, it has been agreed to promote regional meetings (for similar areas or for ecclesiastical provinces, Â…) with the objective of taking care of the concrete human and pastoral situations of visitors, tourism professionals and pastoral agents. The national “Days” for this pastoral care, which began in 1964, have also been confirmed. The growing number of Spaniards who go abroad for vacation, diversion or tourism indicates the advisability of providing preparation for them to give space during that period of time for religious experience, too. 

Little by little, the recommendations formulated at the Sixth World Congress of the Pastoral Care of Tourism (Bangkok, Thailand 2004) are being carried out.

Subsequently, the participants met in study groups to reflect on two subjects. The first was related to the circulation of information. The question was asked: “Do websites exist in the different countries that reflect the pastoral care for tourists and reveal the Christian identity? Can they be useful instruments for circulating information better, at least on the European level, regarding the pastoral activity carried out in the individual countries, considering the importance of everyone’s experiences. Realities and prospects”. The second subject had to do with the request for possible proposals to the Pontifical Council especially regarding the Pastoral Care of Tourism in general and the Dicastery’s information Bulletin, and in view of a Seventh World Congress.

In the afternoon, the talks of the representatives of Dicasteries of the Roman Curia continued.

Rev. Msgr. Johan Bonny, the representative of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, spoke about the possibility of favoring collaboration between the Churches and ecclesial Communities in the area of the pastoral care of tourism in Europe. First of all, he expressed thanks for what has already been done to encourage cooperation and ecumenical exchange in tourism. He gave some examples including that of the great capitals and European cities that have made cathedrals, churches and shrines more hospitable for their own faithful and for the members of other Christian traditions. He also mentioned an Internet site created to help the local faithful and the numerous tourists to find a meeting point for personal assistance or liturgical celebrations according to their ecclesial belonging. Msgr. Bonny noted next that “the ecumenical approach in the area of tourism often proves to be the fruit of successful collaboration between two worlds: that of leaders of Churches and Christian Communities and that of political leaders or organizing agents in the sphere of culture or tourism”. He said that the ecumenical approach, which urges taking common initiatives and offering common witness, can only help the Christian communities to enhance together the value of the common heritage, and make it known to the “transversal world” of tourism.

With regard to helping tourists understand the particular reality that the Christian tradition offers them to see and contemplate, Msgr. Bonny raised the possibility of a kind of “ecumenical” formation of guides or other agents working in the field of tourism. Many Christians in fact have the opportunity to be ecumenical during the course of their voyages. In any case, his Dicastery will publish a little “practical guide to spiritual ecumenism” shortly. The guide will offer useful suggestions to promote precisely spiritual ecumenism in shrines and pilgrimages, but it could also be applied to the “transversal” world of tourism, especially in the European context.

Rev. Fr. Theodore Mascarenhas, S.X., the representative of the Pontifical Council for Culture, recalled first of all the account of creation in the Book of Genesis in which God created everything and saw that it was “good”, “beautiful”. God’s beauty in nature, its manifestation in cultures and human artistic work thus becomes a basis and foundation of tourism. During the past plenary Session, the Pontifical Council for Culture discussed in detail how the via pulchritudinis, or the “way of beauty”, can be an instrument in the evangelization of cultures, inculturation of the faith and dialogue with non-believers. For those who take care of the pastoral care of tourism in Europe, while the cultures in evolution and globalization represent tough challenges, the traditional cultural treasures provide an opportunity both for a real dialogue between cultures, and for the use of the via pulchritudinis to lead humanity to God. According to the words of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, “Tourism can promote an authentic human and social development thanks to the growing opportunity that it offers for a sharing of good, for rich cultural exchanges, for approaching natural or artistic beauty, for a comparison between different mentalities, traditions and religions”” (Message of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, in the Holy Father’s name, on the occasion of the XXVII World Day of Tourism, September 8, 2006). Therefore, practical measures ought to be adopted to make tourism an instrument for the evangelization of cultures and for intercultural dialogue.

Rev. Msgr. Fabrizio Capanni, Office head at the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, noted that today religious tourism and pilgrimages constitute a valuable pastoral occasion to reach a greater number of people than those who attend church. In referring in a “natural” way to the dimension of the spirit, art is an instrument for arousing interest in religious subjects, even in those who have no faith or are searching. Sacred art has always been an excellent means of catechesis, evangelization and dialogue. Religious tourism agents, pastors of souls and in general every Christian community that keeps tourist places of religious interest, will have to include the enhancement of sacred art in the pastoral plan that accompanies the organization of voyages and pilgrimages and hospitality for tourists and pilgrims. Shrines are also privileged places where liturgical reform can be carried out correctly and the encounter between the Church and artists can take place.

Mr. Angelo d’Andrea, who is in charge of the “Information Office Tourists Pilgrims” of the “Governatorato” of the Vatican City State, reported on the activity carried out by his service.

The principal mission of the Office, which consists in aiding visitors and satisfying requests for information of a religious character, has now evolved in order to respond to the ever more numerous visitors. In fact, about 1,000 people pass through the Office daily who, for the most part, are some of the much more sizeable number of faithful leaving after a visit to the Basilica. The Office, which has a constantly updated information system, also favors the activity of volunteers who act as guides for groups of the faithful interested in free visits to Saint PeterÂ’s Basilica and grants the use of rooms to organize these appointments.

Volunteer service is offered throughout the year almost daily (excluding Sundays) in the early afternoon. On a yearly basis, more than 300 visits are organized, for a total of more than 3,000 participants.

Rev. Msgr. Pier Gaetano Lugano, the Director of the Office for the pastoral care of free time, tourism and sports of the Vicariate of Rome, welcomed all the participants on behalf of the Diocese of Rome. In presenting the activities and experiences of this Church, he explained that in the area of religious tourism the Diocese uses the “Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi”. As hoped for by the Bangkok Congress, this body proposes to “contribute to the encounter between Nations and cultures” and tries to make the contact between the local people and the Christians communities a significant moment of the voyage. Monsignor Lugano also reported on some examples of projects carried out: voyages to the Holy Land promoted by the above-mentioned “Opera” in all the Dioceses of Italy, the “peace marathon” for sportsmen/women, and the recent reconciliation pilgrimage in Lebanon, Jordan and Israel. The Office is also trying, possibly in a regular way, to take care of the spiritual formation of hotel directors and tour operators. It also continues to promote the distribution of the inter-denominational Gospel in hotels. The celebration of Sunday Masses in the principal languages are indicated appropriately.

In collaboration with the region, the province and the city, moreover, ancient pilgrimage routes from all over Europe to Rome have been enhanced and reactivated. Two open bus routes, called “Roma Cristiana”, have been studied to offer a thematic view of Rome from the religious, artistic, cultural and sociological standpoints. On the other hand, in collaboration with Alitalia and Trenitalia, holidays are organized to take part in the papal Audiences or the Angelus, to visit the Basilicas and tombs of the popes, or to reach the main destinations of a visit or pilgrimage. So there is a desire to give back to tourism its nature as a moment of encounter, dialogue, confrontation and respect for those who are different from us.

At the end of the second day of meeting, the participants approved the following Conclusions and Recommendations.


II. Conclusions 

1) All the participants are aware that the proclamation of the Lord Jesus Christ is the center of any pastoral care, including that of tourism, and that all its action has the human person as its object-subject. In continuity with the indications expressed in the recommendations of the World Congress in Bangkok in 2004, this action must be creative and carried out with pastoral inventiveness.

2) Tourism itself, a complex reality and a “sign of the times” needs a new, if not the first evangelization of those who take part in it in various ways, also because of the new forms in which tourism appears today: scholastic, linked with congresses, health, social, “missionary”, sport tourism, for major events (World Youth Days, sports events and musical ones ...).

3) In the BishopsÂ’ Conferences represented at the meeting, there is a desire to deepen the human reality of the tourism phenomenon, which affects so many aspects of pastoral life because it is transversal and involves many areas of society and the Church herself. However, it must be kept in mind that differences exist in the approach to the pastoral care of tourism between Churches in Eastern and Western Europe.

4) It was noted that, unfortunately, a reductive perception of tourism still exists associated solely with business and well being, and this hinders adequate acceptance and the necessary development of pastoral activity in the sector.

5) It seems useful to create a national structure, where it does not already exist, which is capable of coordinating what many dioceses are already doing so as to rationalize the ChurchÂ’s action and make it effective and significant.

6) In secularized, and increasingly intercultural, multi-religious European society, tourism can become a useful instrument for spreading Gospel values (and knowledge about the characteristic symbols of the continentÂ’s Christian roots): that is, it can help build a more human and peaceful society. Even a well-guided visit to works of art and historical places can be a natural catechesis.

7) The need for a formation project, also with an ecumenical perspective and attention to the religious dimension, is becoming a priority. It should be capable of interacting in a kind of alliance with the different subjects interested in the world of tourism (ecclesial, professional, institutional, educational, university, entrepreneurial...), thereby offering our experience to everyone.

8) This transversal action can become a frontier laboratory for evangelization, but also a testimony to openness, acceptance, communion and dialogue both within the ecclesial community and in Church-world relations, in light of the texts of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (Gaudium et Spes).

9) In fact, the Church’s action in the world of tourism, in respect for transversality, has several correlations (for example, among different ecclesial subjects, in ecumenical dialogue, in the encounter with other religions) then is and summed up and expressed in “hospitality”. This action is not a simple offering of data or information, but a style of collaboration, encounter, and understanding that can tear down walls and fences and build bridges of solidarity and peace.

10) The transversality of tourism highlights the need to find a connection that will make it possible to give it an anthropological and moral value, as well as a universal dimension, taking to heart the ecclesial Magisterium.

11) Christian tour operators and entrepreneurs, keeping transversality in mind, have a great task in preventing tourism from becoming “out of proportion”, producing negativity for the weaker subjects, and jeopardizing prospects for growth.

12) Pilgrimages deserve special mention and attention, especially the destinations that have given a face to Europe: the Way of Santiago, the “Via Francigena”, the network of shrines, and the art and faith itineraries in a continent that is so rich in testimonies of its Christian roots.

13) The workers involved in the tourism sector, who are absorbed by their work throughout the tourist season, deserve particular pastoral attention with original forms that allow them to see the ChurchÂ’s concern for them.

14) From the viewpoint of a pastoral strategy network, or better, an integrated strategy, the pastoral care of tourism finds its subjects of reference and synthesis in the ecclesial communities, especially the parishes, because of their capillary presence on the territory.


III. Recommendations 

15) Agreements should be promoted with civil bodies on various levels (International Organizations, the European Union, Governments, regions, municipalities), in the name of manÂ’s centrality, and bearing in mind that tourism has a transversal influence on culture, economy, ecology, peopleÂ’s lifestyles and quality of life, etc.

16) It will be worthwhile to provide incentives, together with other ecclesial subjects, in a transversal way and in a spirit of communion (missionary centers, centers for the pastoral care of youth, the family, the elderly, retired people, volunteers), for original forms of tourism with a “new face”: free tourism, low-cost travel, visit to missionary territories, vacations in the service of poor countries, ecological tourism, paths of silence, hospitality in monasteries or in prayer centers.

17) The reality of the pastoral care of tourism will have to be adapted to the evolution of society and technology, with the creation, for instance, of an interdisciplinary Observatory for quality tourism (attentive to all the social categories), made up by theologians, sociologists, jurists, economists, pastoral agents, experts and technicians, in communion with the Pastors of the Church.

18) It will be worthwhile to create synergies with the institutions, at all levels, so that pastoral ministry will be in favor of all the people who live from tourism or are affected by it.

19) In view of the European reality, which is increasingly marked by people’s mobility, the mission of priests and other pastoral agents must be ever more qualified in order to adapt to an unstoppable characteristic that is transforming the parish communities from stable to “privileged places of transit and encounter limited in time”.

20) The possibility should be studied of formational courses for ecclesial subjects within the pastoral plans of the local Churches and the programs in Seminaries, in an interdisciplinary and thus transversal key, while examining with the Catholic and State Universities, Theological Faculties, Formation Institutes and Research Centers, the possibility of offering courses, masters and study seminars on tourism and its pastoral care.

21) The study of languages in initial formation thus becomes essential, perhaps with internships abroad, in order to ensure the “plurifunctionality” of future priests in an increasingly intercultural area.

22) To restless modern man, who is frightened by natural catastrophes (global warming, tsunami...), it is urgent for the Church to make her theology of creation known as a solid basis for the respect and protection, in addition to the enhancement and appreciation, of the beauty and order of creation.

23) It will be important to achieve greater synergies with professional Associations (hotel owners, leaders, guides, tour operators, workers in the sector, including seasonal workers...) for common agreements in view of promoting quality tourism.

24) In the pastoral care of tourism, both in welcoming visitors and in preparing the faithful for their voyages, injustices will also have to be pointed out with regard to those who are exploited and whose rights are violated, as in the case of unprotected workers, women and especially minors.

25) The formation of guides or escorts should also consider the possibility of presenting Christianity to tourists who are not believers in Christ.

26) The art of traveling should be put more in focus and attention should be given not only to its fun and recreational dimension, but also to the learning dimension of research, discovery, and cultural curiosity in which tourists can experience a kind of spirituality of free time.

27) Tourism is a possibility that is offered to rethink the reality of time and encourage Christians on vacation to reconcile the time for rest with the riches of religious celebration, without limiting this to Sunday Mass.

28) Regarding the problems raised by marriages celebrated in tourist locations, it is up to the local Bishops to respond to this, collatis consiliis with the Bishops of the touristsÂ’ territory of origin.

29) It is hoped that a website will be created on the European level with a pastoral focus to which everyone can refer and also contribute. The key words “pastoral care and tourism” are important for easy access to it. It is suggested to begin this on the national level.

30) With regard to the pastoral care of tourism in the city of Rome, the fulcrum of Christianity, also in collaboration with the competent authorities of the Holy See some feel it is necessary for the pilgrims that take part in the papal Audiences to have organized places and aid for Eucharistic celebrations with an “international” character.

Moreover, in order to enable all the pilgrims to understand the Holy FatherÂ’s words immediately in their own languages, the hope is expressed that various aids will be used (large screens with the text in several languages, transistor radios...).

31) Concerning the difficulty of some local Churches because of the great influx of tourists in high season and a lack of priests, it is hoped that the BishopsÂ’ Conferences of Europe with more personnel and means will show their solidarity by not allowing the services of priests to be lacking during the vacation period. In this way they could combine a useful pastoral service with a needed rest.

32) It is hoped, as far as possible, that the Pontifical Council will take part in events connected with the pastoral care of tourism promoted by the BishopsÂ’ Conferences in the different countries.


Vatican City, 21st November 2006