Tourism - Celebrating Diversity


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VATICAN CITY, 10 JUL 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was a pastoral message for World Tourism Day published by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. World Tourism Day falls this year on 27 September and the theme of the English-language message is: "Tourism - celebrating diversity".

In the message, dated 24 June, Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio and Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, respectively president and secretary of the council, write: "Diversity is a fact, a reality, but, as Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, it is also a positive factor, something good, and not a threat or a danger, up to the point that the Holy Father wants 'people not only [to] accept the existence of other cultures but also desire to be enriched by them'.

"The experience of diversity belongs to human existence, also because each one's development advances by diversifying steps that promote the person's growth and maturity process. It is a progressive discovery, as we compare ourselves with people and everything around us, thus distinguishing ourselves from what is unlike us".

The president and secretary of the council highlight the importance of doing "everything we can to transform discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance into understanding and mutual acceptance, through the roads of respect, education and open, constructive and binding dialogue".

"Tourism is also 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", they continue. "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 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".

"If tourism develops in the absence of an ethic of responsibility, there would at the same time be the danger of uniformity and of beauty as 'fascinatio nugacitatis'. What happens, for example, is that local residents make of their traditions a show for tourists, offering diversity as a commercial product".

"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".

After emphasising how "in contemplating diversity, the human person discovers traces of the divine in the footprints of what is human", the two archbishops affirm that "for the believer, differences as a whole open ways by which one can draw near the infinite greatness of God".

"God entrusts the Church with the task of forging a new creation in Jesus Christ - thanks to the Spirit - recapitulating in Him all the treasures of human diversity that sin has transformed into division and conflict".

The message concludes by expressing the hope that "the divine breath of life may win over every xenophobia, discrimination, racism, and bring nearer those who are far away, through a contemplation of the unity/diversity of a human family blessed by God".