VATICAN CITY, JAN. 26, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The concluding document of the 8th International Congress for the Pastoral Care of Circuses and Fairs is highlighting the possibility of transmitting Gospel values through these arenas.
The congress, organized by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, took place Dec. 12-16 in Rome. The final document was published last week.
Some 70 people who work in the pastoral care of this sector, including bishops, priests, men and women religious and laity, entrepreneurs, workers and artists, attended the congress.
The concluding document noted that the art of fair people and the professional abilities of circus performers “can become channels of transmission of the Gospel and of witness of the beauty and goodness of God.”
The congress participants highlighted the priority objective “to make the pastoral care of circuses and fairs known better to local Churches, in order to foster greater attention to present problems that concern persons dedicated to itinerant shows.”
Moreover, at the gathering, “an attempt was made to consider this request in the broader context of the ordinary pastoral program of the Church, with the conviction that no one is a stranger in it, because it is not foreign to any man.”
The final text acknowledged that the world of circuses and fairs “reflects a very broad society and culture” that is “subject to constant mobility.”
It continued, “The evangelizing action calls for strong spiritual commitment and the secret of its success in the world of circuses and fairs lies, in part, in the qualified formation of the pastoral agents, in their generosity and dedication to service, but also in the openness, willingness and full involvement of the circus and fair persons themselves as protagonists, and not just as recipients of pastoral action.”
For fair workers, and especially for circus people, “it is practically impossible to belong to a traditional ecclesial community” such as the parish, the document noted.
It added, “To this must be added the fact that the whole family nucleus is absorbed by the fatigue of the preparations and the performance of shows, especially on holy days of obligation and those that immediately precede them.”
In this context, the congress participants affirmed, the family — especially the role of women — assumes ever greater importance.
They noted that in the world of fairs and circuses, “there is still maintained, though with difficulty, the value of the family, love for the elderly and solidarity; there is still a strong sense of religiosity.”
Because of this, the participants recommended that ecclesial leaders make an effort “to guarantee to believing communities of itinerant shows greater opportunities to receive Jesus Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist, facilitating access to the celebration of Holy Mass and, more generally, participation in all the sacraments.”
Likewise, the document exhorted pastoral agents to “visit circuses and fairs,” so as to create “occasions of mutual knowledge and communion, also through the celebration of Mass and the administration of the sacraments.”
For their part, the persons who work in circuses and fairs must be “sensitized and motivated to seek and, if possible, to reinforce their connection with the ecclesial community that lives in the territory in which they are temporarily settled, in a mutual dynamic of giving and receiving, taking advantage of the moment in which their work commitments are less urgent.”
The congress participants also recommended “synergy between the states, international organizations and the local Churches, to offer the necessary help to preserve the identity of circuses and fairs,” and the accomplishment of “initiatives in favor of school education for itinerants.”</p>
The document concluded, “The public administrations and local authorities must recognize the socio-cultural value of itinerant shows and counteract any eventual form of marginalization and prejudice.”