VATICAN CITY, JUNE 25, 2004 (Zenit.org).- On the eve of the Summer Olympics in Athens, John Paul II has pointed to sports as a possible instrument of peace and development.
The Pope makes that point in a message entitled, “Sports and Culture: Two Vital Forces for Mutual Understanding, Culture and Development Among Countries,” written for the World Day of Tourism. The day will be celebrated Sept. 27.
Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, presented the papal message today.
In his message, the Holy Father says that sporting events, whether at the Olympic or local level, do not “have to renounce their noble vocation to promote the ideals of peaceful coexistence, understanding and friendship.”
For John Paul II, sports promote the culture of peace that “must be accompanied by practicing the virtues of temperance and sacrifice.”
“Frequently it also requires a good team spirit, respectful attitudes, the appreciation of the qualities of others, honesty in the game, and humility to recognize one’s own limitations,” he added.
“While playing sports, Christians also find help in developing the cardinal virtues — fortitude, temperance, prudence and justice,” he wrote. They can also “encourage the weakest and do not exclude anyone, which free young people from apathy and indifference, and provoke in them a healthy spirit of competition.”
The Pope said sports should be “a factor in the emancipation of the poorest countries and help to eliminate intolerance and to build up a more fraternal and united world.”
He added that sports also can “help people to love life and help us to understand sacrifice, respect and responsibility, leading to recognizing fully the value of every person.”