The Vatican is urging people to respect creation when they take their summer vacation, which will allow them to more easily encounter God.
“We invite everyone to promote and use tourism in a respectful and responsible way in order to allow it to develop all of its potentialities, with the certainty that in contemplating the beauty of nature and peoples we can arrive at the encounter with God,” said the July 24 letter marking the 2012 World Tourism Day.
The letter was written by Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò, President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. This year’s World Tourism Day, which is organized by the World Tourism Organization, takes place on September 27 under the theme of “Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development.”
Cardinal Vegliò said the Vatican had a duty to speak out on the issue because the Church “has a responsibility towards creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere.”
He cautioned, however, that it is not the job of the Church to “propose concrete technical solutions.” Instead, the Church has to make sure that the issue is not “reduced to mere technical, political or economic parameters” but is accompanied by “some appropriate ethical guidelines” which stress “that all growth must always be at the service of the human being and the common good.”
Even during the recent financial downturn, the global tourist industry has continued to expand. According to the World Tourism Organization statistics, the number of tourists will double between now by the year 2030.
In April of this year Pope Benedict XVI told the council’s annual congress, convened in the Mexican resort of Cancun, that they should use the social teaching of the Church to “promote a culture of ethical and responsible tourism, in such a way that it will respect the dignity of persons and of peoples, be open to all, be just, sustainable and ecological.”
Cardinal Vegliò echoed this point in his letter by adding that “we cannot separate our view of man and nature from the bond which unites them with the Creator,” since “God has entrusted the good stewardship of creation” to human beings.
He is now calling for a “great educational effort” to promote ethical tourism so that people remain sensitive to environmental concerns, even when they go on holiday.
“This conversion of the mind and heart allows us rapidly to become more proficient in the art of living together that respects the alliance between man and nature.”