“Welcome to our Gargano!”

Welcome message to tourists from the Archbishop

Dear friends and tourist friends,
you have chosen our wonderful Gargano to spend a few days of serene and restorative rest, after a year of work: I greet you and welcome you with joy also in the name of the Church which lives and makes its exodus in this stupendous land.

It is a territory which, alongside the beauty of Creation, combines precious testimonies of Christian faith, art and history, and which holds two original sanctuaries of Christianity: that of the Archangel Michael, the oldest in Monte Sant’Angelo, and that of San Pio da Pietrelcina, the most recent in San Giovanni Rotondo.

I would like to share with you some thoughts that will help you to look as open and “contemplative” as possible.

Even on vacation we are called to join the great and silent “river of Peace and Justice” which, as Scripture teaches, flows “law as water and justice as a perennial fountain” (Am 5, 24), and we must feel committed for climate justice, invoking it not only for human beings, but for all of creation, through a radical change in our attitudes and actions, almost always dictated by selfish consumerism.

Let us all join this “river of Justice and Peace”, very urgent in this historical moment, to make our individual, family or faith community identities converge, like the tributaries, in a single, powerful course, ‘entering the steppe desertic’ (Is 43, 19), which can move the immovable mountains of selfishness and violence.

Our individual actions, even during the holiday season, are important and immediate: respect the woods, pine forests, beaches, panoramic places, squares, alleys and streets of our fantastic villages with cleanliness, reduce our carbon footprint, are gestures and choices that make us operators of Justice and Peace (see Mt 5, 6-8).

Today we are as it were besieged by terrible wars, spread all over the globe, and marred by the criminal arms industry, which do nothing but destroy all hope and action for peace. Pope Francis insistently reminds us that no one can save themselves alone and that war is a defeat for all of humanity and not just for the parties directly involved in conflicts.

The invitation that I address to you fraternally is to ‘be authentic peacemakers’ thinking and having behaviors all based on the logic of the common good. Today it’s up to us to do our part in favor of peace, taking care of those who are less fortunate and of the burning ‘common home’, without waiting, without delegating, without losing interest: it is possible to have this attention and care even on vacation; on the contrary, the holiday can be an opportunity to increase our responsibility towards Justice and Peace!

The beauty of the Gargano tells the eyes of all the beauty of Creation wanted by its Creator and Father: the days of vacation in this paradisiacal ‘spur’ of Italy are a precious opportunity to learn to see the presence of beauty everywhere and always. Thus, upon returning to your cities and to everyday life, you will certify that you are not mere users, but true custodians of the beauty that everywhere and always calls for Justice and Peace.

My wish to you, dear friends, is to be “next to the victims of environmental and climate injustice and put an end to the senseless war on Creation” (Pope Francis, Message for Day of Creation 2023), deciding ” to transform our hearts, our lifestyles and the public policies that govern our societies”.

We truly welcome the appeal launched by the Pontiff: “Let us raise our voices to stop this injustice towards the poor and towards our children, who will suffer the worst impacts of climate change”.

Welcome, then, to our beloved Gargano!

And best wishes for a good holiday!

†  Mons. Franco Moscone

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