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Cultural routes: Cardinal Bagnasco (CCEE) at the Council of Europe, “threads of a canvas rich in diversity.” “Encounter: the true nature of the journey”

(Strasbourg) In his address at the Council of Europe Cardinal Bagnasco underlined that “mass tourism often risks approaching works of art as mute objects”, while “cultural heritage is a dynamic reality, which communicates and possesses authentic regenerative power. But in order to allow ourselves to be challenged by this encounter we must be willing to step out of ourselves. In other words, we must be willing to undertake an authentic journey: an inner journey which external travels are the instrument and the sign of.” In this respect, the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe “are particularly precious. They traverse the whole continent like threads, connecting places that are outwardly distant and different, united by physical routes or ideal itineraries that contributed to shape our identity, and which for this very reason inspire our future. The canvas composed by interlacing all of these threads is nothing other than the canvas of European unity, in the richness of its diversity.” His Eminence said that these Routes “conceive cultural heritage as a thriving reality that can be known only by undertaking a journey, namely, by interrupting our habits and embracing the encounter with others, sought not as the result of a yearning for something new, but as the expression of a common – in some cases passionate – quest for what is true, beautiful, meaningful, which incorporates an inherent and profound spiritual dimension.”
“This quest has taken on different shapes in Europe, as can be seen in the variety of certified Routes, which reflect but a part of this richness, and where the Gospel message left its visible traces.” Moreover, the experience of CoE Cultural Routes is set, inter alia, in the context of “a widespread rediscovery of alternative forms of tourism, which, while their approach can be defined secular, recall the ancient conception of pilgrimage.” “Slow”, sustainable tourism, “is chiefly based on the belief that encounter is the true nature of the journey, which requires time, inner openness, resembling a conversion from what is often the hectic pace of everyday life.” Bagnasco added: “This is ultimately the spirit of the pilgrim: a humble spirit willing to try himself in the journey he decided to undertake.” “Only journeying makes us experience, only journeying leads to encounter. Encounter is enriching, it gives us a new perspective, it enables us to build the future on new grounds.”

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