Vatican official: sport can help restart society after pandemic

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Continuing to forge the friendship between faith and sport, the Italian Bishops’ Conference, in collaboration with the Vatican Sports Office, organized a symposium on the future of sport at the International Olympic Academy in Greece.

The symposium from November 10 to 14 entitled “Epos, Ethos, Paideia, Polis: Rethinking the sport of the future together” took place in Olympia, Greece, in the facilities recently renovated and reopened by the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas . Bach.

The Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life has an office dedicated to the Church and to sport, and its head, the Spanish layman Santiago Pérez de Camino, participated in the conference. He spoke on the first day of the ethical tension that exists in sport and how sport is going through a period of profound transformation, accelerated and amplified by the pandemic.

“There is a temptation to go back, to fold in on yourself, to look for a crack where you can take refuge and hide in the past,” he said. Node. “But sport experienced with consistency and seriousness has a deep ethical dimension which could help society to restart what should be a conscious effort to create a more inclusive and just society.”

“Now more than ever perhaps, sport must recognize itself in the values ​​of solidarity and socially inclusive ethics and morals,” he said.

The initiative was promoted by the National Office for the Pastoral Care of Leisure, Tourism and Sport of the Italian Bishops’ Conference. Representatives of sports federations, members of the Olympic Committee, the School of Sports and Italian sports associations of Christian and non-Christian inspiration were present.

Although the popes have long preached the importance of the sport, the sport took a more professional stance in the Vatican under Pope Francis, who is famous for his love of football – although by his own admission he was never good at it, so he’s always been the goalkeeper.

The creation of Athletica Vaticana in 2019 marked the Vatican’s first major foray into international sport. The athletics federation was created in a double effort with the Italian Olympic Committee in the hope that the Vatican could one day be recognized by World Athletics.

There are more than 100 people who are officially part of the Vatican athletics team, created after several employees and citizens of the smallest state in the world literally clashed on the banks of the Tiber in Rome or in the magnificent Villa. Pamphili.

Membership is free, but being a citizen, employee, or child of a Vatican employee is a requirement. The only exceptions are two migrants who entered Italy through Lampedusa after fleeing Africa in an inflatable boat and a 12-year-old girl in a wheelchair who, in the words of layman Giampaolo Mattei, “really likes to ‘run’ with us. “.

According to Francis, it is important that the Vatican has its own sports team because sport is such a central dimension in people’s daily life, so much so that it can be considered a “sacramental of beauty”.

A second important step in the Vatican’s pursuit of Olympic inclusion came at the end of September, when Vatican City became an official member federation within the International Cycling Union (UCI).

The announcement was made by the UCI as part of the organization’s 190th Congress.

“Sport is a great opportunity for inclusion, but it is not automatically inclusive,” said Pérez. “What is needed is a vision and planning capable of protecting the inclusive value of sport, which is transformed into a common commitment to counter the excesses of sport, promote a sport adapted to the most vulnerable people and restore the social marginality at the center through sport. “

“As Pope Francis has reminded us on several occasions, we must start a period of alliances, because as the pandemic has so clearly shown us, no one is saved alone,” he said.

The colloquium was intended as a first step of collaboration between the institutions of the Church and the world of sport to train new generations and transform society through the practice of sport.


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