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European Congress on Shrines and Pilgrimages (2002)

European Congress on Shrines and Pilgrimages (2002)

Third European Congress on Shrines and Pilgrimages

Shrine of Montserrat (Barcelona, Spain) March 4 to 7, 2002
“The Shrine: a Place for a Fraternal and Universal Welcome”


The Bishops, the Rectors of the Shrines, the Directors of pilgrimages and the pastoral workers from twenty-three countries meeting at the Third European Congress on Shrines and Pilgrimages in Montserrat, Spain, from March 4-7, 2002:

1. We thank the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and the Montserrat Shrine, the promoters of the Third European Congress, for organizing the meeting.

2. We are grateful to the Community of the Benedictine Monks of Montserrat for the wonderful, fraternal hospitality they offered us. We also express our gratitude to the institutions, agencies and volunteers who offered their collaboration to the Congress.

3. At the conclusion of these days of reflection, prayer, and life together, we, the 190 participants in the Congress, wish to address our brothers and sisters who carry out their ministry in Shrines and in the direction of the pilgrimages, in order to share the experience we had during the meeting.

4. We discover in the Word of God, the presence of the Lord who, from the beginning, has visited man and calls him to filial communion. He “has visited his people”; He accompanies them over the course of history and renews the Covenant. He has visited us in Christ the Lord who accompanies His pilgrim Church in time and makes His voice resound in each one’s heart.

5. We would like to welcome those who visit our Shrines knowing that we are witnesses to God’s goodness and particularly close to those who suffer most, the marginalized, the excluded and the weary. We would like to make the Church’s countenance visible, a body that takes on the joys and sorrows of all and is the sacrament of salvation in Jesus Christ.

6. We note the great diversity of reasons that drive visitors to Shrines. In addition to those who make the religious act of the pilgrimage, many people visit Shrines out of fidelity to a personal, family or popular memory, moved by a cultural interest, a desire to draw nearer to nature, the search for a calm environment favorable for reflection, etc. The history of every individual person and the identity of each Shrine shape the plurality of reasons which basically tend towards the search for God that each one harbors deep in his heart.

7. We affirm the appropriateness of drawing up guidelines which will enable us to understand and appreciate the different reasons for visits to Shrines so as to offer a more suitable and familiar hospitality to all, both through the celebrations, and carefully prepared informative material, with the help of adequately trained guides or in properly guided traditional ways.

8. We therefore invite everyone to join in our commitment to adopt the exhortation the Holy Father John Paul II made to us at the opening of our Congress so that the Shrines will be a “privileged image of the Church,” which is always attentive to the breath of the Spirit, open to all, and committed to building peace and fraternity.

9. At this time, we would like to mention some situations that deeply concern us; and we make a general appeal for their constructive solution:

  • We ask for peace among nations so that no one will be discriminated against or suffer violence because of his/her religion or origin;
  • We strongly request that progress be made in an effective peace process for the Middle East, and we express solidarity with our Christian brothers, the guardians of the pilgrimage places in the Holy Land;
  • We echo the words of the Holy Father lamenting the marginalization of religions in the constitutional process undertaken by the European Union, where no mention is made about the Christian religious reality that is a part of the European identity, to which our Shrines and Ways of pilgrimage are authentic witnesses.

10. We implore the protection of Mary, the Mother of God, the “Moreneta” venerated in this Shrine of Montserrat, whose presence has guided our reflection during these days. May she help us to exercise our ministry so that Shrines will always be a place of fraternal and universal hospitality..

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