Pope John Paul II stresses role of Sport and Tourism for Peace and Harmonious Coexistence

Travel News Asia 3 August 2004

On the occasion of the forthcoming World Tourism Day to be celebrated on 27 September, Pope John Paul II issued a message in which he included reflections highlighting the positive aspects of sport and tourism directed in particular at the World Tourism Organization Members and "all who work in this sector of human activity".

"Tourism improves relationships between individuals and peoples; when they are cordial, respectful and based on solidarity they constitute, as it were, an open door to peace and harmonious coexistence," the Pope stressed in his message.

"Much of the violence that humanity suffers in our times is rooted in misunderstanding as well as in the rejection of the values and identity of foreign cultures. Therefore, it would often be possible to get the better of these situations thanks to a better reciprocal knowledge. In this context I am also thinking of the millions of migrants who must play a participatory role in the society that hosts them, which is founded above all on appreciation and recognition of the identity of each person or group."

"The World Day of Tourism, therefore, not only offers a fresh opportunity to reinforce the positive contribution of tourism to building up a more just and peaceful world, but also to a deeper reflection on the concrete conditions in which tourism is organized and practised."

"Sport and tourism refer first and foremost to free time, in which activities must be encouraged that foster both physical and spiritual development. There are, however, many situations in which tourism and sport are specifically interrelated and condition each other, for instance, when sport actually becomes the main reason for travel at home or abroad. In fact, sport and tourism are closely linked in the great sporting events in which the countries of one or other region of the world compete, such as, for example, the Olympic Games, which must not relinquish their lofty aim of arousing ideals of coexistence, understanding and friendship."

"I would like to urge you warmly and with renewed hope to promote a form of sport that protects the weak and excludes no one, that frees young people from the snares of apathy and indifference and arouses a healthy sense of competition in them; sport that is a factor of emancipation for poorer countries and helps to eradicate intolerance and build a more fraternal and united world; sport which contributes to the love of life, teaches sacrifice, respect and responsibility, leading to the full development of every human person," concluded Pope John Paul II in his message.

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