.- Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect for the Congregation for Clergy, stated in a recent letter to all Catholic shrines around the globe that they provide a crucial opportunity to evangelize the thousands of tourists who visit them each year.
“Shrines maintain an extraordinary attraction for the faithful, shown by the growing number of pilgrims that go to them,” the cardinal said. “To visit a shrine can be for them a valuable opportunity to encounter Christ or to rediscover their sense of baptismal vocation and to hear its saving call.”
“Frequently one finds men and women of every age and condition, with complex human and spiritual situations, sometimes removed from a sound life of faith,” he added.
In an Aug. 12 letter to priests and rectors of shrines, Cardinal Piacenza first expressed his gratitude for the “attentive dedication” they give in addressing the pastoral needs of the pilgrims “who approach the places of worship entrusted to your care in ever greater numbers from every part of the world.”
He then outlined several ways in which shrines become an opportunity for visitors to be touched by God, specifically through the Scriptures, the sacraments of Reconciliation and of the Eucharist, adoration, prayer vigils and the intercession of the Virgin Mary and the saints.
Cardinal Piacenza said that presenting the depth and beauty of the Church through its sacraments will challenge “the pervasive sense of relativism that currently reigns” and enable shrines to “become places that facilitate a renewed dynamism directed towards the greatly desired new evangelization.”
He also encouraged priests and rectors to be warm and inviting to visitors as well as deeply informed on the teachings of the faith.
“I exhort each of you to direct to direct your sights to these persons in a particularly welcoming and attentive manner,” the prefect said.
“With evangelical wisdom and with a generous sensitivity, it would serve as an example to make oneself the companion on the journey with pilgrims and visitors, seeking to identify the reasons of the heart and the expectations of the spirit that have brought them there. “
A “welcoming humanity, spiritual insightfulness and theological intelligence, will help in introducing the pilgrims to the Shrine as an event of grace, a place of religious experience and of rediscovered joy,” he added.