By Linda Bordoni
Marking the 70th anniversary of the Youth Tourism Centre founded by an Italian priest together with a group of young people of the Catholic Action movement, Pope Francis praised the idea that gave life to the Centre saying it aimed to promote an integral vision of the human person by cultivating the dream of transforming our social environment.
This vision, he said, more than ever must be rooted in reality and immersed in a historical and cultural context.
Youth Tourism Centre
The Centre aims to promote sustainable tourism with particular awareness for social and environmental issues.
The Pope encouraged those present to go ahead with their mission to help young people travel with their eyes open to the world, with their hands holding other hands, with their hearts open to the frailty of their brothers and sisters.
When speaking of an “integral” vision, he said, the “integrity” to which we refer does not allude to perfection, but to imperfection; it does not recall the completeness of the individual, but rather his or her incompleteness and the need to understand each other more thoroughly; it does not push towards a self-sufficient immobility, but to a humble search for new knowledge in order to make contact with people, with different cultures, to the problems of our time.
Pope Francis also dwelt on the different types of tourism promoted by the association, which he said are not inspired by the rules of consumerism, but by the wish to foster an encounter between travelers and the territory in a context of mutual respect.
A so-called “slow” tourism, he said, is able to promote solidarity, quality and sustainability.
Helping young people to fly high
The Pope also asked the young members of the Tourism Centre to be travel companions for those who have lost hope, are incapable of dreaming and are demotivated in the face of the future.
He told them to help others “fly high”, pointing out that young people who seem content with just surviving are not really living their lives. “It’s as if they have already retired”, he said.
Practicing the faith
Finally, the Pope encouraged those present to renew their commitment and invited them to practice their faith with pride, in the knowledge that being Catholic does not mean being locked up within a fence but, on the contrary, being open to the world and living for the good of all.
Celebrate this anniversary, he concluded, by recognizing you have a mission within the Church and within the human family.