David Cogswell | September 29, 2015 12:00 PM ET
The Pope Brings Hope
Pope Francis is good for the travel industry because a world that is wracked by war, poverty and environmental destruction is not a good place for people to travel.
The Pope’s visit to the U.S. last week was like a crack of cosmic thunder heard 'round the world. The repercussions will not die away for a long time. Politicians, usually so glib with word games to justify anything they want to do, were practically rendered speechless in their flimsy attempts to refute the Pope’s message, which some saw as threatening.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, for example, put forward the argument that “the Pope’s infallibility is in the realm of religion, not politics…” Christie is usually much more blunt in telling people to shut up and stay out of his business. In the case of the Pope he had to choose his words more judiciously.
But Christie has it upside down. When the Pope condemns the worship of money and promotes care of people and the planet, he is not speaking about politics but morality. If your politics do not align with the Pope’s simple explications of the moral universe, that is your problem. It is not for you to tell the Pope to stay out of politics. The Pope is not in politics. But politics, unfortunately for corrupt politicians, does fall within the moral universe.
The travel industry too, lies within the moral universe. As in any industry, there are some who justify dishonest and destructive behavior with the motto “business is business.” They too will look for ways to discount the Pope’s message.
In regard to the travel industry, the Pope’s message and actions have already had a powerful effect by bringing together the leaders of Cuba and the United States and helping them to forge a path toward a better future for the two countries, with Cold War hatreds put behind and the opening of a new world of cultural and business exchange.
The Pope is such an inspirational individual that he has increased the number of people who want to travel to Rome and to the Vatican to hear him speak. He himself is a tourist attraction. In 2011, the Vatican attracted 2.5 million visitors. In Pope Francis’ inaugural year of 2013, he attracted 6.6 million.
He has presented a message of environmental stewardship that is based on Biblical teachings but also supports the sustainable tourism being practiced by those in the travel industry who are trying to preserve our world for future generations.
Some politicians are telling us to ignore Pope Francis on his warnings about climate change, once again saying, "He's not a scientist." Wrong. Pope Francis has a degree in chemistry.
Just as Martin Luther King Jr.’s importance was not based on the mere fact of his being a Baptist minister, the Pope derives his moral authority not just from being head of the Catholic Church, but from the power of his message.
His message is not directed only to faithful Catholics, but to all people, regardless of religion.
Like many others who are not Catholics, I am inspired by the vision Pope Francis brings to the world. I believe it will be good for the travel industry, and for the world at large.
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