.- The Holy Father has written a letter on the virtues of sports and tourism and the contribution they make to life and culture. The message, written for the the occasion of the 25th World Day of Tourism which will take place on September 27 on the theme "Sports and Culture: Two vital forces for mutual understanding, culture and development among countries," was made public today.
Tourism "contributes to improving relationships between persons and groups of people which, when it is cordial, respectful and unified, is like a door open to peace and coexistence,” writes the Pope in the letter dated May 30, the Solemnity of Pentecost.
“In effect, much of the violence in our age is due to misunderstanding and even the rejection of the values and identity of other cultures. For this reason, misunderstanding can often be overcome through greater reciprocal knowledge,” he said.
“In this context, I also think about the millions of immigrants who must become part of the society that accepts them, based above all on the appreciation and recognition of the identity of each person or group.”
The Pope also stated that the many abuses of the tourism industry such as “the phenomena of exaggerated commercialism, aggressive competition, violence against persons and things, even the degradation of the environment and the offense of the cultural identity of those who welcome tourists, cannot be ignored.”
“Therefore,” he said, “the World Day of Tourism offers the opportunity not only to affirm the positive contribution of tourism to a more just and peaceful world, but also to examine the specific conditions in which it is carried out.”
“In this respect,” he continues, “the Church cannot allow the focus of its vision of man and history to be lost. In effect, the supreme principle which must govern human coexistence is respect for the dignity of each person, created in the image of God, and therefore, our brother or sister.”
“This principle,” he said, “must guide all economic and political activity, according to the social doctrine of the Church, and it must also inspire religious and cultural coexistence.”
The Pope noted that sports and tourism asre closely linked in international sporting events such as the Olympic Games.
He also pointed to the virtues that sport helps to cultivate, and that in turn must be adhered to in order to insure “the correct practice of sport: the virtues of temperance and sacrifice; frequently it also requires a good team spirit, respectful attitudes, the appreciation of the qualities of others, honesty in the game and humility to recognize one's own limitations.”
“In short,” he said, “sports, especially in less competitive forms, foster festive celebration and friendly coexistence. While playing sports, Christians also find help in developing the cardinal virtues - fortitude, temperance, prudence and justice."
“Without ignoring the deviations that regrettably continue to occur,” he said in conclusion, “I want to earnestly and hopefully urge people to promote 'sports which encourage the weakest and do not exclude anyone, which free young people from apathy and indifference, and provoke in them a healthy spirit of competition; sports which are a factor in the emancipation of the poorest countries and help to eliminate intolerance and to build up a more fraternal and united world; sports which help people to love life and help us to understand sacrifice, respect and responsibility, leading to recognizing fully the value of every person'.”