VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 13, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Tourism’s sensitivity about the environment is good so long as it doesn’t get out of hand, says John Paul II.
On Sept. 27 the Catholic Church will be among those observing the 23rd World Tourism Day, with the theme “Ecotourism, Key to Sustainable Development.”
The Pope has already published a message for the occasion, in which he states that “tourism allows us to use part of our free time to contemplate the goodness and beauty of God in his creation and, thanks to contact with others, helps to further dialogue and reciprocal knowledge.”
In the document, the Holy Father explains that “a new sensitivity is affirming itself, generally known with the name ‘ecotourism.’ It is certainly good in its assumptions, but it must be controlled so that it is not perverted, becoming a vehicle of abuse and discrimination.”
“If the protection of the environment is promoted as an end in itself, there is the risk that new modern forms of colonialism will come into being, which might injure the traditional rights of resident communities in a specific territory,” the Holy Father explains.
“Hence, it would become an obstacle to the survival and development of local cultures, and economic resources would be taken away from the authority of local governments, the first to be responsible for the ecosystems and the rich biodiversity present in the respective territories,” the Pope continues.
“No intervention in an area of the ecosystem can neglect to take into consideration the consequences derived from it in other areas and, more generally, the effects that it will have on the well-being of future generations,” the message warns.
“In general, ecotourism takes people to places, environments or regions whose natural balance needs constant attention so that it is not compromised,” the message notes. Therefore, the Holy Father calls for “studies and rigorous controls aimed at harmonizing respect for nature with man’s right to his personal development.”