VATICAN CITY, JULY 6, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers is urging Christians to use tourism as a way to contemplate the richness of God’s creation, to discover his beauty in diversity.
The council affirmed this in a pastoral message written for World Tourism Day, which will be celebrated on Sep. 27 this year and will focus on the theme “Tourism — Celebrating Diversity.”
The message, signed by the council’s president, Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliò, and secretary, Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, acknowledged that diversity is “a positive factor, something good, and not a threat or a danger.”
It observed 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.”
At the same time, it added, “we see misunderstandings, prejudices and deeply rooted misconceptions that raise barriers and nurture divisions” arising from the fear “of what is different, unknown.”
Tourism, the council noted, can be “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.”
“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,” it added.
The message noted: “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.”
It pointed out that diversity also takes place “in the virtual world, a cosmic megalopolis permanently offered to everyone.”
In tourism, the council asserted, there must also be responsibility, so that local traditions are not just a tourist show, “offering diversity as a commercial product, only for lucrative purposes.”
It continued, “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.”
God is the source of diversity, the council affirmed, and “the Creator was the first to contemplate the beauty-goodness of everything that he made.”
He is also the source of unity, it added, “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 diversity, tourism, for us, can be Christian, an open road to contemplative confession,” the message stated.
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