Great Britain's Catholics Prepare for Olympics

Bishops Propose Initiatives to Minister to Participants, Spectators in England

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LONDON, JULY 20, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The bishops of England and Wales are preparing local Catholics for their part in supporting the Olympics with seven ways the faithful can connect with the games.

The Catholic 2012 Office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales produced a downloadable document detailing the initiatives, categorized in their suitability for individuals, for group participation, for use by schools or a community group, by the Catholic community on its own or as a way of serving jointly with other churches.

Each idea offered contains three suggestions that can be considered. The most practical and powerful way for anyone to serve the Games is through prayer, the bishops’ statement asserts. Visits to the Blessed Sacrament to pray for peace and a trouble-free games are on the top of the agenda, with Catholics being encouraged to pray as they go about their daily routines of walking and traveling by car or public transport. Joining other Christians in prayer at specific moments of the morning and evening is also encouraged.

“The Games offer the local parish the opportunity to build community in a very practical and tangible way. No one is being asked to try and plan anything extravagant in 7 days. However, there are small ways in which people can ‘olympify’ what they are already confident doing. This is all they are being invited to do,” said James Parker, Catholic Executive Coordinator for the 2012 Games.

“In so many areas across Britain,” he continued, “churches are leading the way in putting on celebrations. It is not only important for the Christian community to engage with this unique gathering of the world’s nations, but to be at the forefront of the festivities.”

Another initiative introduced by the Archdiocese of Westminster is called the “More than Gold” pastoral ministry. Archbishop Vincent Nichols, archbishop of the diocese, spoke to reporters about the ministry. The initiative serves as a welcome to the families of participating athletes who want to see their sons and daughters, but can not pay for a hotel. 

“We found hundreds of people willing to share their home with these families,” the prelate said.

The Archbishop of Westminster reported that in the beginning of the preparation of the Olympic Games, the John Paul II Foundation for Sport was created. This organization, he said, “will attempt to help structure in schools and Catholic organizations, the possibility that young people from troubled districts may have the opportunity to play sports instead of being on the street.:

Regarding liturgical ceremonies during the Games in the capital, the archbishop said Mass there will be celebrated in Westminster Cathedral on July 28, a day after the official start of the Games.

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