VATICAN CITY, APRIL 29, 2009 ( The time has come to update the document on the ministry of tourism, given the industry's recent exponential increase, said the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.

Archbishop Agostino Marchetto affirmed this today in a speech during the European Meeting on the Pastoral Care of Tourism, which is taking place in Rome with representatives of 20 countries, including bishops and national directors in the field.

In the past 60 years, the prelate pointed out, the specific pastoral care focused above all in ensuring compliance with the Sunday precept at tourist sites. He noted the need to adopt a more complex perspective nowadays, which will take into account the ethical and anthropological aspects of the phenomenon.

He noted that there were 924 people who traveled as tourists in 1950, and 50 million people in 2008. Along with this huge increase, said Archbishop Marchetto, there are new "pastoral needs and concerns," such as "the ecology and climate change, the ethics of tourism, the fight against the sexual exploitation of children and women and the Christian dimension of many tourist attractions."

The prelate explained that mankind "is called to salvation in all the moments of life, including entertainment, sports and tourism."

He added, "If the Church is interested in tourism it is not only because it is an important new element of our civilization, but also because it profoundly affects the condition of the men to whom the Word of God is addressed."

The archbishop asserted that "the ministry of tourism should be considered as an integral part of the ecclesiastical ministry, not as something added, which should not be only directed to tourists but also to organizations, operators and workers in the sector."

Value promotion

The meeting began today in the Palace of San Calixto, and commemorates the 40th anniversary of "Peregrinans in terra," which was published on April 30, 1969, under the pontificate of Pope Paul VI.

This document, a statement from the Pontifical council reported, "was the first ripe fruit of a journey undertaken by the Church faced to the growing phenomenon of tourism, which after World War II went from being the exclusive benefit of the elite to a mass phenomenon."

During this meeting a volume will be presented on "Pontifical Magisterium and the Holy See Documents on the Pastoral Care of Tourism (1952-2008)."

The council president, Archbishop Antonio Vegliò, said in the opening address that "modern tourism is a social phenomenon of increasing development and international scope, in which it is necessary to have a greater maternal presence of the Church."

The Church, he said, "with clarity and friendliness must go farther in the knowledge of the economic, political, sociological and psycho-sociological aspects of tourism today, if it wants to participate in a rational and competent way in promoting the true values of tourism, and to propose to the public, little by little, an ethics of tourism."

He concluded, "Because tourism is made for man, not man for tourism."