ROME, DEC. 20, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers is calling the circus a sign of hope in a globalized world.
Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglió stated this in an address at the 8th International Congress for the Pastoral Care of Circuses and Fairs, which took place in Rome last week.
The congress, which ended Thursday, was attended by 70 people who work in the pastoral care of this sector, including bishops, priests, men and women religious and laity, entrepreneurs, workers and artists.
Archbishop Veglió stated, “With their art and ability, with imagination and creativity, persons of circuses and fairs are prophets of a humanity rich in promises and hopes.”
The environment of circuses and fairs “is the place in which, beyond the cultural barriers and linguistic and religious separations, persons meet, recognize one another as brothers and sisters, accepting each other in their diversity,” he noted. “It is in this that the importance and value of the circus and of Luna Park consists.”
The prelate stated that those who work at circuses and fairs “are bearers of peace, joy and serene relaxation.”
The archbishop observed that the reality of these workers, “positive because of the values with which these ‘artisans’ of celebration, of marvel and wonder give joy to the societies of the whole world,” is characterized by “a certain temporariness of life” and a “continuous uprooting of environments and persons.”
Because of the “singular mobility of their life,” he added, these workers “do not have a sense of belonging to a parish community and this is reflected negatively on religious practice, frequentation of the sacraments and catechesis.”
“Yet their itinerant nature increases in them the desire for genuine ecclesial participation and spiritual growth,” Archbishop Veglió affirmed.
Lacking constant external points of reference, he noted, “in the world of traveling entertainment the family is the privileged place of transmission of the faith, of values and of good customs,” demonstrating itself also as “teacher of humanity, of solidarity and of brotherhood.”
In a context in which “the Christian family is threatened on many sides,” the prelate stated, “the traditional family of persons of circuses and fairs is placed as a ‘beacon’ to look at with trust and hope.”
Persons of the circuses and fairs, “being already inserted in the ecclesial community through baptism, have a right to the spiritual care of the Church,” the archbishop asserted.
He added that wherever “it is not possible to make use of traditional channels of transmission of the faith, it is necessary to single out other ways and forms,” a task that requires “particular pastoral ‘imagination’ and singular apostolic generosity.”
If it is important to assure persons of the circus and fairs “a constant presence of priests for the celebration of the sacraments,” where this is not possible, “the service of extraordinary ministers, of men and women religious will be able to supply daily support to spiritual life and catechesis, at the same time helping families of circuses and fairs to be themselves protagonists of communion,” given that they are “the first actors of evangelization, acting as ‘evangelical ferment’ in their own environment,” Archbishop Veglió said.
From this point of view, he noted, “the first and irreplaceable help must come from the parish in whose territory circus and fair workers are staying temporarily.”
The prelate urged the parishes to “be sensitive also toward these persons, assuming attitudes of acceptance and conduct of generous hospitality, as well as willingness to listen and to engage in reciprocal exchange.”
He said that the presence of persons of the circus and fairs in the territory of the parish could also “constitute for the priest a propitious occasion to proclaim the evangelical message also to so-called ‘distant’ parishioners, with an invitation to a Eucharistic celebration or a Liturgy of the Word held under the circus tent or among the carousels.”