Papal Message to Seminar on Faith and Sports

“Sport Has a Notable Educational Potential”

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 9, 2009 ( Here is a translation of the message Benedict XVI sent to Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, on the occasion of the two-day seminar titled “Sports, Education and Faith: For a New Stage in the Catholic Sports Movement,” which ended Saturday in Rome.

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To Venerated Brother
Stanislaw Cardinal Rylko
President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity
With great pleasure I send a cordial greeting to you, to the secretary, to the collaborators of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, to the representatives of Catholic organizations that work in the world of sports, to those in charge of international and national sports associations and to all those taking part in the study seminar on the theme: “Sports, Education and Faith: For a New Stage in the Catholic Sports Movement,” organized by the Church and Sport section of this dicastery.
Sport has a notable educational potential above all in the realm of youth and, because of this, it is of great Importance not only in the use of free time, but also in the formation of the person. Vatican Council II named it among the means that belong to the common patrimony of men and that are appropriate for moral perfection and human formation (cf “Gravissimum Educationis,” No. 4).
If this is true for sports activity in general, it is all the more so for that which is carried out in oratorios, in schools and in sports associations, for the purpose of ensuring a human and Christian formation to the new generations. As I had the opportunity to remind recently, it must not be forgotten that “sports, practiced with passion and vigilant ethical sense becomes, especially for youth, training in healthy competitiveness and physical improvement, school of formation in human and spiritual values, privileged means of personal growth and of contact with society” (Address to the participants of the Swimming World Cup, Aug. 1, 2009).
Through sports activities, the ecclesial community contributes to the formation of youth, offering an appropriate ambit for its human and spiritual growth. In fact, when they are directed to the integral development of the person and are managed by qualified and competent personnel, sports initiatives reveal themselves as propitious occasions in which priests, religious and laity can become true and proper educators and teachers of life of young people. Hence, it is necessary that, in our time — in which we see the urgent need to educate the new generations — the Church continue to support sports for young people, fully appreciating also competitive activity in its positive aspects, as for example, in the capacity to stimulate competitiveness, courage and tenacity in the pursuit of objectives avoiding, however, all tendencies that pervert its very nature with recourse to practices that are also dangerous to the organism, as is the case of doping. In a coordinated formative action, Catholic leaders, technicians and operators must be considered experienced guides for adolescents, helping them to develop their own competitive potentialities without neglecting the human qualities and Christian virtues which make the person completely mature.
In this perspective, I find it very useful that this third Seminar of the “Church and Sport” section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity focus its attention on the specific mission and the Catholic identity of sports associations, of schools and of oratories managed by the Church. It is my heartfelt hope that it will help to take advantage of the many and precious opportunities that sport can offer youth pastoral care and, while hoping for a fruitful meeting, I assure you of my prayer invoking on the participants and on those who are involved in promoting a healthy sports activity, particularly in Catholic institutions, the guidance of the Holy Spirit and Mary’s maternal protection. With these sentiments, I send to all my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing.
In the Vatican, Nov. 3, 2009


[Translation by ZENIT]
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