VATICAN CITY, 6 JUL 2011 (VIS) – The Message for World Tourism Day published by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples was issued today. The Day, which is due to be celebrated on 27 September, has as its theme: “Tourism linking cultures”.

The message has been published in Italian, French, English, Spanish and Portuguese. Extracts from the English-language version are given below:

“The theme of this year, ‘Tourism linking cultures’, wishes to highlight the importance that travelling has in the meeting of the different cultures of the world, especially in our present day world where more than ninety million people travel internationally, favoured thus by modern means of communication and lower associated costs”.

“It is necessary to ensure that people not only accept the existence of other cultures – as Benedict XVI affirms – but also desire to be enriched by them’, welcoming the true, good, and beautiful therein”.

“However, regarding dialogue, the first condition that is required is that of knowing how to listen, to want to be questioned by the other, desiring to discover the message within each monument, cultural manifestation, all of this being done with respect, without prejudice or exclusion, and avoiding biased readings. It is thus equally important ‘to know how to welcome’ as to ‘know how to travel'”.

“The cultural patrimony of the Church is indeed immense”. It “arises from the experience of faith, of the encounter between culture and the Gospel, as the fruit of the profound religious experience of the Christian community. Certainly, the works of art and historical memory have an enormous potential to evangelise, in as much as they are placed in the context of the ‘via pulchritudinis’, the way of beauty, which is ‘a privileged and fascinating path on which to approach the Mystery of God’.

“It must be an objective priority of our pastoral care of tourism to show the true meaning of this cultural heritage, born from faith and for the glory of God. … It is therefore important that we present this patrimony in its authenticity, illustrating its true religious nature, placing it in the liturgical context in which and for which it was born.

“As we are conscious that the Church ‘exists in order to evangelise’, we must always ask ourselves: How can we welcome people in holy places so that they come to better know and love the Lord? How can we facilitate an encounter between God and each one of the people that are there welcomed?”. In this context, the Message highlights “the importance of an adequate welcome, … manifested by a variety of elements: from the simplest details to personal availability to listen, to accompaniment throughout the duration of the stay.

“In this regard, and with the objective of promoting this inter-cultural dialogue and taking advantage of our cultural patrimony at the service of evangelisation, it is fitting to adopt a series of concrete pastoral initiatives. All of these must be integrated into a broad programme of interpretation that, together with historical-cultural information, illustrates in a clear and accessible way the original and profound religious meaning of these cultural manifestations, using for this modern and attractive means, and taking advantage of the personal and technological resources that are at our disposal.

“Among these concrete proposals there is the elaboration of the idea of tourist travel offering visitation to the places that are most important in the religious and cultural patrimony of the diocese. Along with this, broad time periods of open hours should be favoured, thus making available an adequate welcoming. In this way, the spiritual and cultural formation of tourist guides is important, and thus one can see the value in the possibility of creating organisations of Catholic tour guides”.

“We cannot allow ourselves to view the tourist visit as simply a step in pre-evangelisation, but on the contrary, we must see it as a platform to realise the clear and explicit announcement of Jesus Christ”.

The Message concludes by officially announcing “the celebration of the seventh World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism, that will take place in Cancun, Mexico, from 23 to 27 April 2012”.

COM-SM/VIS 20110706 (700)