"Open Churches" in Portugal During Soccer Championship

LISBON, Portugal, JUNE 14, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Portuguese Catholics have welcomed soccer fans, arriving in the country for the European championship, by greatly extending the opening hours of their churches.

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In the city of Aveiro, one of the localities where games are being played, churches are staying open from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. thanks to the willingness of young and elderly volunteers, so that tourists can visit and pray in the churches.

The Catholic Portuguese agency Ecclesia explained that the purpose of the Churches Open to the Public initiative is to “make known the historical-cultural heritage of Aveiro,” as well as to “foster contemplation and spirituality.”

Last November, in preparation for the European soccer championship, the Church in Portugal published a note entitled “Sports at the Service of the Integration of the Person and of the Meeting of Peoples.”

The document highlighted the positive values of sports, as well as the “shadows” such as “the exaggerated commercialization of the sporting phenomenon,” the “lack of transparency in contracts,” the use of “prohibited chemical substances” and “violence in the stadiums.”

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