Papal Message to Tourism Conference
"Traveling, which offers us the possibility of admiring the beauty of peoples, cultures and nature, can lead to God"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 23, 2012 .- Here is a Vatican translation of the message Benedict XVI sent to the 7th world congress on pastoral ministry in tourism. The event began today in Cancun, Mexico.

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To my Venerable Brothers

His Eminence Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò, President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People,

and the Most Reverend Pedro Pablo Elizondo Cárdenas, Prelate-Bishop of Cancún-Chetumal

On the occasion of the VII World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism which will take place in Cancún (Mexico) from 23 to 27 April, I am pleased to send you my cordial greeting which I extend to my Brother Bishops and to all those taking part in this important meeting. As you begin these days of reflection on the pastoral attention which the Church dedicates to the area of tourism, I wish to convey my spiritual closeness to the participants and my respectful greetings to the civil authorities and to the representatives of the international organizations that are also present at this event.

Tourism is certainly a phenomenon characteristic of our times, due both to the important dimensions that it has already achieved and in view of its potential for future growth. Like other human realities, it is called to be enlightened and transformed by the Word of God. For this reason, moved by pastoral solicitude and in view of the important influence tourism has on the human person, the Church has accompanied it from its first beginnings, encouraging its potential while at the same time pointing out, and striving to correct, its risks and deviations.

Tourism, together with vacations and free time, is a privileged occasion for physical and spiritual renewal; it facilitates the coming together of people from different cultural backgrounds and offers the opportunity of drawing close to nature and hence opening the way to listening and contemplation, tolerance and peace, dialogue and harmony in the midst of diversity.

Travelling reflects our being as homo viator; at the same time it evokes that other deeper and more meaningful journey that we are called to follow and which leads to our encounter with God. Travelling, which offers us the possibility of admiring the beauty of peoples, cultures and nature, can lead to God and be the occasion of an experience of faith, "for from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator" (Wis 13:5). On the other hand tourism, like every human reality, is not exempt from dangers or negative dimensions. We refer to evils that must be dealt with urgently since they trample upon the rights of millions of men and women, especially among the poor, minors and handicapped. Sexual tourism is one of the most abject of these deviations that devastate morally, psychologically and physically the life of so many persons and families, and sometimes whole communities. The trafficking of human beings for sexual exploitation or organ harvesting as well as the exploitation of minors, abandoned into the hands of individuals without scruples and undergoing abuse and torture, sadly happen often in the context of tourism. This should bring all who are engaged for pastoral reasons or who work in the field of tourism, and the whole international community, to increase their vigilance and to foresee and oppose such aberrations.

In the Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, I chose to situate the reality of international tourism in the context of integral human development. "We need, therefore, to develop a different type of tourism that has the ability to promote genuine mutual understanding, without taking away from the element of rest and healthy recreation" (no. 61). May your Congress, meeting precisely under the banner A tourism that makes a difference, contribute to the development of a pastoral approach that will lead steadily to that "different type of tourism".

I would like to highlight three areas which should receive full attention from the pastoral care of tourism. Firstly, we need shed light on this reality using the social teaching of the Church and promote a culture of ethical and responsible tourism, in such a way that it will respect the dignity of persons and of peoples, be open to all, be just, sustainable and ecological. The enjoyment of free time and regular vacations are an opportunity as well as a right. The Church, within its own sphere of competence, is committed to continue offering its cooperation, so that this right will become a reality for all people, especially for less fortunate communities.

Secondly, our pastoral action should never loose sight of the via pulchritudinis, "the way of beauty". Many of the manifestations of the historical and cultural religious patrimony are "authentic ways to God, Supreme Beauty; indeed they help us to grow in our relationship with him, in prayer. These are works that arise from faith and express faith" (General Audience, 31 August 2011). It is important to welcome tourists and offer them well-organized visits, with due respect for sacred places and the liturgical action, for which many of these works came into being and which continues to be their main purpose.

Thirdly, pastoral activity in the area of tourism should care for Christians as they enjoy their vacations and free time in such a way that these will contribute to their human and spiritual growth. Truly this is "an appropriate moment to let the body relax and to nourish the spirit with more time for prayer and meditation, in order to grow in personal relationship with Christ and become ever more conformed to his teachings" (Angelus, 15 July 2007).

The new evangelization, to which all are called, requires us to keep in mind and to make good use of the many occasions that tourism offers us to put forward Christ as the supreme response to modern man’s fundamental questions.

I therefore encourage you to ensure that pastoral activity in the field of tourism is integrated, as it ought in all justice, as part of the organic, ordinary pastoral activity of the Church. In this way, by the coordination of projects and efforts, we will respond in greater fidelity to the Lord’s missionary mandate.

With these sentiments, I entrust the fruits of this Congress to the powerful intercession of the Mary Most Holy under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe and, as a pledge of abundant divine favours, I cordially impart to all present the requested Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, April 18th 2012



Conclusions on Pastoral Aspects of Tourism
"Needs a New, If Not the First Evangelization"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 6, 2006 ( Here are the conclusions of a meeting on the theme "Tourism, a Transversal Reality: Pastoral Aspects" that was held in November. The Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers convoked the event.

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Meeting of the National Directors of the Pastoral Care of Tourism in Europe
"Tourism, a Transversal Reality: Pastoral Aspects"

(Palazzo San Calisto, Nov. 6-7, 2006)


1. All the participants are aware that 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 touristic, for major events (World Days of Youth, sports events and musical ones ...).

3. In the Bishops' 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 Church's action and make it effective and significant.

6. In secularized, and increasingly intercultural, multireligious European society, tourism can become a useful instrument for spreading Gospel values (and knowledge about the characteristic symbols of the continent'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 of remembrance 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 the Church-world relation, 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) and is summed up and expressed then 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 Church'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 man's centrality, and bearing in mind that tourism has a transversal influence on culture, economy, ecology, people'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 the 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, the 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 the 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 tourists' territory of origin.

29. It is hoped that a Web site 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 Father'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 bishops' 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 bishops' conferences in the different countries.

Vatican City, 21st November 2006


Holy See's Message for World Tourism Day
"Mutual Knowledge Will Help in Building a More Just, Supportive and Fraternal Society"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 6, 2009 - Here is a pastoral message from the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers written for World Tourism Day, which will be celebrated on Sep. 27 this year and will focus on the theme "Tourism -- Celebrating Diversity."

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"Tourism - celebrating diversity", the theme of World Tourism Day 2009 proposed by the relevant World Organization, opens for us ways of meeting with human beings, with their diversity, their anthropological richness.

Diversity is a fact, a reality, but, as Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, it is also a positive factor, something good, and not a threat or a dan ger, up to the point that the Holy Father wants "people not only [to] accept the existence of other cultures but also desire to be enriched by them."[1].

The experience of diversity belongs to human existence, also because each one's development advances by diversifying steps that promote the person's growth and maturity process. It is a progressive discovery, as we compare ourselves with people and everything around us, thus distinguishing ourselves from what is unlike us.

In positively evaluating what is different, we note a contradiction. On one hand we observe that in this time of globalization, cultures and religions approach each other more and more, and that in the heart of all cultures, an authentic desire for peace is emerging. On the other hand, we see misunderstandings, prejudices and deeply rooted misconceptions that raise barriers and nurture divisions. This is the fear that is in us of what is different, unknown .

We must therefore do everything we can to transform discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance into understanding and mutual acceptance, through the roads of respect, education and open, constructive and binding dialogue.

In seeking to do this, the Church has an important role to play, starting with Paul VI's deep conviction, expressed in the encyclical Ecclesiam suam, that "the Church must enter into dialogue with the world in which it lives. It has something to say, a message to give, a communication to make."[2] This means a constructive and sincere dialogue which, to be authentic, "must avoid sinking into relativism and syncretism and must be inspired by sincere respect for others and by a generous spirit of reconciliation and fraternity."[3]

From this perspective, tourism is also an occasion for dialogue and listening, inasmuch as it puts people in contact with other ways of living, other religions, other ways of seeing the world and its history.[4] It is likewise an invitation not to withdraw into one's own culture, but to be open and face different ways of thinking and living.[5] It should not be surprising, therefore, that extremist sectors and terrorist groups of a fundamentalist nature indicate tourism as a danger and an objective to destroy. Mutual knowledge - let us ardently hope - will help in building a more just, supportive and fraternal society.

People's initial experience regarding diversity takes place today also in the virtual world, a cosmic megalopolis permanently offered to everyone. Thanks to this first form of "tourism", which is virtual and kinematic, diversity is observed at a close range, facilitating a proximity of the different one who is distant. It is this "tourism" that first celebrates diversity.

However, it is above all tourism understood as a physical mobility, that underlines natural, ecological, social, cultural, patrimonial and religious diversity. It also allows us to discover the work done together, cooperation among peoples, unity among human beings in the magnificent and disturbing diversity of its achievements.

However, in discovering diversity, contradictions and limits appear. If tourism develops in the absence of an ethic of responsibility, there would at the same time be the danger of uniformity and of beauty as "fascinatio nugacitatis" (cfr. Wis 4:12). What happens, for example, is that local residents make of their traditions a show for tourists, offering diversity as a commercial product, only for lucrative purposes.

All this requires an effort, both on the part of the visitors and of the local residents who welcome, to assume an attitude of openness, respect, nearness, trust in such a way that, motivated by their desire to meet others, respecting their personal, cultural and religious diversity, they will be open to dialogue and understanding.[6]

The foundation of diversity lies in the mystery of God. The Word that creates is at the origin of the richness of the species, particularly of him/her who is the "image and likeness" of God. This poetical biblical Word is diversity, source of the identity of every creature, since the Creator was the first to contemplate the beauty-goodness of everything that He made (cf. Gen 1). And God is also that wonderful force which is the principle of unity of all differences, seen as a "manifestation of the Spirit ... given for some benefit (1 Cor 12:7). In contemplating diversity, the human person discovers traces of the divine in the footprints of what is human. And for the believer, differences as a whole open ways by which one can draw near the infinite greatness of God. As a phenomenon having the possibility of celebrating diversi ty, tourism, for us, can be Christian, an open road to contemplative confession.

God entrusts the Church with the task of forging a new creation in Jesus Christ - thanks to the Spirit - recapitulating in Him (cf. Eph 1:9-10) all the treasures of human diversity that sin has transformed into division and conflict,[7] so that, "in the Spirit of Pentecost", it may contribute "to the foundation of a new society, in which the different languages and cultures no longer constitute inviolable confines, as after Babel, but in which this very diversity can realize a new manner of communication and communion."[8]

These are reflections that can encourage the commitment of those who are involved in the specific pastoral care of tourism, especially towards those who suffer in some way due to the phenomenon. This, however, is a sign of our time and brings with it positive aspects. We stresse d this once again on the occasion of the recent celebration of the 40th anniversary of the publication of the Directory Peregrinans in terra.

My the divine breath of life win over every xenophobia, discrimination, racism, and bring nearer those who are far away, through a contemplation of the unity/diversity of a human family blessed by God. It is the Spirit that gathers together in unity and peace, in harmony and mutual recognition. In Him, there is order and beauty in the seven days of creation. May He, too, enter the tormented history of humankind, thanks also to tourism.

From the Vatican, 24 June 2009

Antonio Maria Vegliò


Agostino Marchetto

Archbishop Secretary

[1] Benedict XVI, Message on the occasion of the Study Day on the theme "Culture and Religions in Dialogue", organized by the Pontifical Councils for Interreligious Dialogue and for Culture, 3 December 2008: L'Osservatore Romano, n. 287 (45.027), 9-10 December 2008, p. 1. Along the same line, John Paul II affirmed: "To cut oneself off from the reality of difference - or, worse, to attempt to stamp out that difference - is to cut oneself off from the possibility of exploring the depths of the mystery of human life. The truth about man is the unchangeable standard by which all cultures are judged; but every culture has something to teach us about one or other dimension of that complex truth. Thus the ‘difference' which some find so threatening can, through respectful dialogue, become the source of a deeper understanding of the mystery of human existence" (Address to the fiftieth General Assembly of the United Nations, 5 October 1995, n. 10: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XV III/2 -1995-, Vatican City 1998, p. 738).

[2] Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam suam, 6 August 1964, n. 65: AAS LVI (1964), p. 639.

[3] Benedict XVI, Message on the occasion of the Study Day on the theme "Culture and Religions in Dialogue", l.c.

[4] Cf. Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Instruction Erga migrantes caritas Christi (The love of Christ towards migrants), 3 May 2004, n. 30: AAS XCVI (2004), p. 778.

[5] "As children of their own culture, travelers, tourists, take off for the encounter/clash with children of another culture. If they start a dialogue with it, they agree to let themselves be questioned by the elements that can enrich their intellectual, spiritual and cultural patrimony. This may lead them to put up for question some behaviors, a priori considerations and even beliefs that influence their everyday lives" (Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Final Document of the Fourth European Meeting on the Pastoral Care of Tourism, 29-30 April 2009, no. 34).

[6] Cf. Benedict XVI, Message on the occasion of World Tourism Day, 16 July 2005: Insegnamenti di Benedetto XVI, I (2005), Vatican City 2006, p. 339.

[7] Cf. Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Instruction Erga migrantes caritas Christi (The love of Christ towards migrants), no. 102, l.c.

[8] Ibid., no. 89.