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Abuses in tourism destroy people's lives

· Benedict XVI's Message for the 7th World Pastoral Congress in Cancún, Mexico ·

For a “different type of tourism” that respects “the dignity of persons and of peoples” rather than being pervaded by by “the most abject of these deviations” which can destroy “psychologically and phyically the life of so many persons and families, and sometimes whole communities”.

The Pope minces no words in denouncing the persistent scourges of “sexual tourism” and likewise the abominable practice of “the trafficking of human beings for sexual exploitation or organ harvesting”.  The Holy Father returns to this very sad reality in the Message he has addressed to the participants in the seventh World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism which began this morning, Monday 23 April in Cancún, Mexico, and will end on Friday, 27 April.

Moreover, the Congress theme: “The Tourism that Makes a Difference”, lends itself to observations on the  “dangers” or “negative dimensions” that notoriously undermine a phenomenon characteristic of our epoch, otherwise to be understood as a “privileged occasion” for “physical and spiritual renewal”,  an opportunity for  “people from different cultural backgrounds” to come together and to draw  “close to nature”. It is a way, Benedict XVI writes further, to encourage “listening and contemplation, tolerance and peace, dialogue and harmony in the midst of diversity”, so as to rediscover the via pulchritudinis that leads to God.

Yet everything is threatened by individuals “without scruples”. This explains the role incumbent on those dedicated to the pastoral care of tourism, on all who are involved in tourism as a way of earning their living and, in any case, on the “whole of the international community”, to increase “their vigilance and to foresee and oppose such aberrations”.The Church's social doctrine, the promotion of visits “to works that arise from faith and express faith” and the search for human and spiritual development in free time are the areas the Pope has pointed out for an “ethical and responsible tourism”.

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Sept. 21, 2019

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