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Thursday, June 26, 2003


VATICAN CITY, JUN 26, 2003 (VIS) - The Pope's Message was published today for the 24th World Tourism Day which will take place on September 27 on the theme: "Tourism: a driving element in the fight against poverty, for the creation of employment and for social harmony."

In the Message, written in Italian and dated June 11, the Holy Father writes that "the next World Tourism Day will focus on tourism in relation to pockets of poverty on every continent. The drama of poverty is one of the greatest present-day challenges, while the gap between different areas of the world continues to grow, despite the availability of the necessary means to provide relief, humanity having achieved extraordinary scientific development and technology."

"It is not possible," continues John Paul II, "to remain indifferent and inert to poverty and underdevelopment. We cannot close ourselves off in our own selfish interests, abandoning innumerable sisters and brother in misery, and, even more serious, allowing many of them to die an inexorable death."

The Pope emphasizes that "tourist activity can play a relevant role in the fight against poverty, from an economic, social and cultural point of view. Travel allows one to get to know places and different situations, and one realizes how great the gap is between rich countries and poor countries. Furthermore, one can evaluate better the resources and local activities, promoting the involvement of the poorest segments of the population."

"We must make an effort," he continues, "never to allow the well-being of a few privileged to be achieved to the detriment of the quality of life of many others."

The Holy Father concludes by expressing the desire that "tourist activity become ever more an effective instrument to reduce poverty, to promote the personal and social growth of individuals and peoples, to consolidate participation and cooperation among nations, cultures and religions."

Today at noon, Archbishops Stephen Fumio Hamao and Agostino Marchetto and Fr. Michael Blume, S.V.D, respectively president, secretary and undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, presented the Message in the Holy See Press Office.

Archbishop Fumio indicated that "despite the high figures in tourism - for example last year there were 715 million international trips for this reason alone - we must always note that a considerable part of humanity encounters grave limitations in ... enjoying free time."

For his part, Archbishop Marchetto referred to the duty to "promote the ethics of tourism," as the Holy Father indicated in his Message for World Tourism Day in 2001. "This is," he said, "an indispensable condition if we want tourism to put its energies to the service of the fight against poverty, and to promote the creation of dignified job possibilities and social harmony among individuals and peoples. All these elements are considered very important for the social doctrine of the Church."


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