Benedict XVI Promotes Athletic Humanism

Foundation Calls for Training Young Athletes in Values

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is prompting a new reflection about values in sports, in particular regarding young athletes, says the president of the John Paul II Foundation for Sports.

Edio Costantini affirmed this today in a statement to ZENIT, in response to the Pope’s message to the Tour de France bicycle race participants.

Tuesday, the Pontiff sent a message of greeting to the cyclists and spectators who passed close to the Alpine village in northern Italy where he is vacationing.

He expressed the hope that «involvement in sport may contribute to the integral development of the person, and that it may never be separated from respect for moral and educational values.»

These words, the president noted, «encourage the search for a new athletic humanism.»

The message should «bring the whole sports world to reflect and rethink today, not tomorrow, about how to promote sports that are not fleeting, that are not an end in themselves,» Costantini added.

The Vatican sports foundation is run under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and works to promote Gospel values through sports.

The president warned against a «crisis of values» in athletics, referencing cases of drug use among athletes, especially young people, both in professional and amateur sports.

He continued, «Now the ethical and moral crisis in a good part of professional sports runs the risk of conditioning the entire sporting movement, particularly the behavior of new generations.»

For this reason, Costantini expressed the desire that the Holy Father’s words would not only be a motivation for believing athletes, but also that it would be welcomed by civil society in order to build a solid foundation for sports in the future.

He affirmed that it is «urgent» for all «directors, coaches, parents, doctors, journalists, educators» to make a «serious examination of conscience about the relationship between sports and the ethical and moral education of our youth, about the role of sports clubs as educational places.»

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