VATICAN CITY, APRIL 22, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers is marking World Circus Day by underlining the socio-cultural contributions of this realm.
The 2nd annual World Circus Day, observed April 16 in various countries, was convoked by the Federation Mondiale du Cirque under the patronage of Princess Stéphanie of Monaco.
The Vatican dicastery, in a message publicized for the event, noted the day's objective: "to make known the contribution of the circus as an integral part of human culture" and at the same time "to recognize all persons involved in the world of itinerant shows, such as the artists, workers and the security staff."
The message, signed by the council's president of, Archbishop Antonio Vegliò, and undersecretary, Father Gabriele Bentoglio, affirmed that the Church "follows with maternal solicitude the circus world, which offers privileged spaces to break loneliness and to overcome anonymity, to appreciate the beauty of the games and exhibitions, of the athletic and artistic exercises, and to give back hope, which is bearer of interior peace even in the midst of the sufferings, anxieties and frustrations of life."
The message also recognized "the social, cultural and pedagogical value of circuses, which makes of them extraordinary places of gathering where circus people can carry out an educational task, peculiar to their art, especially in the dialogue with the littlest ones."
It quoted Pope John Paul II, for whom the grandeur of the circus consisted in "making a child smile and illuminating for an instant the desperate look of a lonely person and, through the show and celebration, making men closer to one another."
Archbishop Vegliò expressed the hope that this day would "be a propitious occasion to remind states and governments of their duty to protect the rights of circus people, so that they can feel, for all intents and purposes, an integral part of society."
"Public administrations must make an effort to recognize the socio-cultural value of the circus performance, opposing any eventual form of marginalization or prejudice towards the circus, and public institutions must foster the professionalism of young artists of the circus," he added.
Referring to cases in which the artistic exhibition makes use of the collaboration of animals, "demonstrating that man can establish with them relations of understanding and fascinating beauty," the prelate recommended that circus owners watch over "the appropriate treatment of the animals."