Sports Can Promote Respect, Says Pontiff

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 7, 2005 ( Benedict XVI spoke about the value of sports when greeting members of the Italian Association of Soccer Referees at a general audience.

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«Your presence gives me the opportunity to underline once more the value of sports, which, if practiced adequately, can become a privileged vehicle to give an incomparable message of hope, promoting the culture of respect, loyalty and peaceful coexistence,» the Pope said today.

The referees, accompanied by their families, arrived in St. Peter’s Square to take part in a pilgrimage which included, among other things, a visit to Pope John Paul II’s tomb.

Last month, the Pontifical Council for the Laity organized the first congress in the Holy See to reflect on evangelization in relation to the world of sports.

That event attracted athletes, trainers, sports journalists and chaplains. As a conclusion of the meeting, the Church confirmed its commitment to the evangelization of this realm.

The Council for the Laity hopes to carry out this work especially through its new section for the world of sports. The section was established by John Paul II.

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