.- In a letter sent in the name of the Holy Father to Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Immigrant Peoples, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano warned that with the growth of world tourism, respect for individual cultures and religions must be upheld and encouraged Christian communities to share the life of Christ with tourists.
The letter was written for the occasion of the World Day of Tourism, scheduled for September 27, 2005 and dedicated to the theme: "Travel and Transport, from the imaginary world of Jules Verne to the reality of the 21st Century."
In his letter, Cardinal Sodano recalls how the "real or imaginary" journeys of the French author "in fact represented an invitation to consult the new geographical atlas and a challenge to human responsibility in facing limits that could no longer be concealed.”
“At the end of the 19th century,” the cardinal said, “in his own incredible voyage, Verne overcame these limits which were imposed by the dominant culture and by a vision exclusively centered on Western Europe."
Cardinal Sodano wrote that, "today too there are obstacles to overcome if we wish tourism, the fruit of travel and transport, to be open to everyone. New and unexplored opportunities for travel with ever more modern and faster means can make tourism a providential occasion to share the goods of the earth and of culture."
He cautioned however, that “it is necessary to bear in mind the ethical needs associated with tourism," and called upon leaders in the field "to favor the peaceful encounter of peoples, guaranteeing security and ease of communication," always bearing in mind the fact that "in all activities, and hence also in tourism, the primary goal must always remain respect for the human being."
The Secretary of State closed the letter stressing that tourists, for their part, must respect the "individual, cultural and religious" diversity of the peoples they visit. He also invited Christian communities to welcome tourists and offer them "the chance to discover the richness of Christ incarnate, not only in monuments and religious works of art, but also in the daily life of a living Church."