Prelate Underlines Values of the Circus

Conference Stresses Pastoral Care of Workers

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 13, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers is noting the values that circuses and fairs bring to our lives, and is calling for care for the workers.

Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio affirmed this Friday in the opening address of a two-day meeting of national directors for the pastoral care of circus and fair workers, which was held in the Vatican.

The prelate said that the itinerant show “has always been present in the life of people, accompanying them, bursting into their daily life, at times gray and banal, with an ensemble of lovely performances, with brilliant lights, lively decorations and stirring music.”

That is why, he said, the vocation of those who are dedicated to this activity “has always been to bring serenity and peace, hope and confidence, which the person, above all today, has greater need the more estranged he is from God and the sources of grace, shutting himself in a blind and egocentric materialism.”

“In the measure that the person distances himself from the love of Jesus Christ, he also distances himself from his neighbor, and no longer understands who he is, what his true dignity is, his vocation and his final destiny,” added Archbishop Veglio.

He continued, “Only in the mystery of the Incarnation, does the person fully rediscover his dignity, the realization of his fulfillment, the measure of his ‘education.'”

The prelate noted that in this context, the evangelization of those who work in itinerant shows is fundamental, “understood in its widest sense as proclamation of the Word of God, communication of divine life through the sacraments and witness of service to brothers.”

Missionary commitment

Likewise, he said, “from listening to the Word, from the living encounter with the Eucharistic Christ and from participation in the sacraments, there arises in the heart the desire for a missionary commitment and the need to give witness.”

Archbishop Veglio recalled that in the circus and carnival environment “there are some values that are considered characteristic of them and that determine their life.”

He continued, “Reception, hospitality, listening and solidarity, joy and peace, make of circuses and fairs extraordinary places of meeting and communion, where different generations and whole families find amusement and recreation, and where relations can be established that enrich and edify.”

The archbishop pointed out that circuses and fairs foster the socialization of youth, “help them to develop creativity and imagination and appear as particular occasions to familiarize themselves with other persons and with animals.”

Despite the “appeals, petitions and articles that criticize this form of entertainment, considering them as outdated and not very amusing,” and calling for a “new circus” without animals, circuses and fairs continue to be “important” places of the city, because of their “social, cultural and pedagogical character,” he said.

The prelate noted, “From the center to the most underprivileged urban outskirts, in rural territories and in the great metropolises, with its activity the itinerant show carries out an important function in cultural life, contributing to its vitality and animation.”

However, he asserted that in order for circuses and fairs “to obtain the security that will enable them to protect and defend their ‘interests’ in a world in constant transformation,” they must try to agree to “a certain evolution.”

Family

The archbishop expressed the hope that “the fundamental values of the family, which are friendship, love, peace, liberty and joy — undoubtedly the strength of circuses and fairs –, might support today’s generations in the building of their future, giving life to a truly solidarity and fraternal society, in which all the different realms, the institutions and the economy are permeated by the evangelical spirit.”

Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the same pontifical council, also gave an address at the gathering.

He called on the local churches to “re-examine their commitment and pastoral action towards circus and fair people in the light of welcome and communion.”

“The circus world,” the prelate pointed out, “has codes in its culture and tradition worthy of consideration and respect.”

He underlined the need to make sure the children of travelling circus workers have access to education and professional formation.

“In the context of education and professional formation, I consider it appropriate to call to mind the great educational and pedagogical value of circus arts, even in stable structures and milieus, where the ‘pedagogy of the circus’ is more and more talked about,” Archbishop Marchetto said.

He affirmed, “In the social field, they are a valid methodological instrument to promote cooperation, contact, communication, mutual respect, aggregative capacity, responsibility, integration and assistance.”

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