Vatican City (Fides Service) – “It is impossible to be indifferent and inert in front of poverty and underdevelopment. We cannot close ourselves in egoistic interests, abandoning numerous brothers and sisters in dire poverty and still worse, letting many of them go to an inexorable death”. Pope John Paul launched this appeal in his Message for 24th International Tourism Day, on September 27, on the theme “Tourism: propelling element of the struggle against poverty, for the creation of jobs and social harmony”.
The Holy Father underlines that tourism is a particular expression of social life with economic, financial and cultural effects: “Its direct connection with the integral development of the person should orient this service, as for other human activities, to building civilisation in the most authentic and complete sense, to build, that is, the civilisation of love”.
This is why International Tourism Day cannot fail to focus attention on the vast pockets of poverty that exist on every continent. Tourism can play an important role in the struggle against poverty from the economic, social and cultural point of view: “Travel allows us to see different places and situations and to realise the great gap which exists between rich countries and poor countries. Moreover, it allows better valorisation of local resources and activities, favouring the involvement of the poorest segments of the population”.
Tourism which is always a meeting with people of different cultures, the Pope says: “should be an opportunity for dialogue between persons of equal dignity; a motive for better knowledge of the local people, history, culture; sincere opening to understand others, which leads to concrete gestures of solidarity”.
Pope John Paul II encourages Catholics “to ensure that all activities, including tourism, are realisations of that ‘new inventive of charity’ which makes us show solidarity to those who suffer, so that the gesture of help is seen not as a humiliating offering but as fraternal sharing.” PA (Fides Service 27/6/2003 EM lines 33 Words: 383)