Vatican Round-up

One billion opportunities

Growth in global tourism is an opportunity even more than a challenge for the Church, according to the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

A statement issued in advance of World Tourism Day, which will take place on September 27, noted that there some 1 billion tourists worldwide in 2012, with the number continues to rise.

The statement, ‘One billion tourists, one billion opportunities’ was signed by Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio and Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, the dicastery’s president and secretary, said that global growth in tourism “launches a challenge to all the sectors involved in this global phenomenon: tourists, businesses, governments and local communities and, of course, the Church too. The billion tourists should necessarily be considered above all in their billion opportunities.”

Tourist increasingly travel “with the more or less conscious desire to reawaken the most hidden part of themselves through encounter, sharing and confrontation” according to the document, which asserted that Pope Francis’ call in Laudato Si to speak “the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world” maps how we should approach new places and the people who live there.

The document called on businesses and governments to work together to build tourism with respect for people, communities, and the environment, and pointed out that the Church has an opportunity to evangelise in the world of tourism.


Progress in Vatican-Vietnam relations

Vietnam and the Holy See must continue holding regular meetings between their leaders and actively work to develop the necessary conditions towards establishing full diplomatic relations, according to a joint statement from Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Politburo member and Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) President Nguyen Thien Nhan.

Speaking after a meeting in Rome, both sides praised how much progress has taken place between the two, quoting Pope Francis’s remarks that a Vietnamese Catholic must be a good citizen and patriot who sides with the nation to build a country of prosperity and happiness.

VFF President Nhan expressed thanks for the Holy Father recent encyclical, Laudato Si, and said he had discussed the issue of environmental protection with Archbishop Paul Bui Van Doc, chairman of the Vietnamese episcopal conference. Explaining that environmental protection is a key policy of the Vietnamese government, he stated his intention to work with the conference in choosing suitable environmental activities to encourage Vietnamese Catholics to engage in.

Cardinal Parolin praised the VFF’s role in safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of the Vietnamese people, including the country’s six million Catholics, and reiterated how governments and people around the world need to prevent conflicts and protect global peace.


Sea Sunday appeal to fight trafficking

More resources are needed to combat human trafficking and exploitation, according to the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

"While we appeal to the governments in Europe, the countries of origin of migration flows, and international organizations to cooperate in searching for a durable and definitive political solution to instability in those countries, we would also like to call for more resources to be committed not only for search and rescue missions but also to prevent the trafficking and exploitation of persons escaping from conditions of conflict and poverty,” the council urged in a statement issued in advance of Sea Sunday, which will be marked on July 12.

Over the last year, the document pointed out, merchant vessels in the Mediterranean have often played a crucial role in rescuing many thousands of desperate migrants from overcrowded substandard vessels.

The message stressed that the world’s economy relies on the approximately 1.2 million seafarers who face arduous conditions on the waves, lamenting how as ports are built further away from main cities, and with fast turnaround times for cargo loading and unloading, it is easy to be oblivious to such seafarers, which it casts as “invisible people”.

The document thanked the chaplains and volunteers of the Apostleship of the Sea, describing their presence in the docks as “the sign of the Church in their midst”.