VATICAN CITY, AUG. 17, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II has set up a “Church and Sports” section in the Vatican to coordinate spiritual assistance to athletes and to promote the authentic values of sports.
In announcing the new entity, which is under the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Vatican press office explained that sports have an important role today “both at the personal as well as the global level.”
“The Athens Olympics and the millions of people worldwide who follow their development are once again a clear sign of how sports are an important element in the life of our societies,” the press official said in a statement Aug. 3.
Moreover, “the tendencies which have increasingly removed the exercise of the different sports disciplines from the original ideals of sport, pose with urgency the need to recall fundamental values also in this field,” the statement added.
“The Church, which has always shown special interest in the different and important sectors of human coexistence, is also called to pay attention to all that concerns sports, which may be considered as one of the nerve points of contemporary culture and a frontier of the New Evangelization,” the statement added.
The document explained that the Church and Sports section will have five functions:
1) “To be a point of reference in the Church for national and international sports organizations;
2) “To sensitize local Churches to pastoral care in sports environments, stressing the need to stimulate collaboration among the associations of Catholic athletes”;
3) “To foster a sports culture that promotes a view of sporting activity as a means for the integral growth of the person and as an instrument at the service of peace and brotherhood among peoples.”
4) “To propose careful study of the specific range of topics concerning sports, especially from the ethical point of view.”
5) “To organize and support initiatives capable of inspiring testimonies of Christian life among athletes.”
The Pontifical Council for the Laity ended the statement by expressing the hope that this new Vatican entity will be an opportunity for sports lovers “to promote the exercise of sport which unites with a constructive spirit the complex needs resulting from the cultural and social changes arising in the last century with those linked to the dignity of the human person.”
“Only in this way,” the statement added, “will sports be a school of virtue and an instrument of peace among peoples.”