Pope Francis to Donate Olive Tree to Kick Off Soccer Match for Peace

Spokesman for Charity Discusses Monday’s Event, How New Digital Platform Will Promote Education

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As a symbol of peace, Pope Francis will be donating an olive tree to be planted at an Interreligious Match for Peace, drawing together world-famous soccer champions this Monday at Rome’s Olympic Stadium.

On the afternoon of the game, the Pope will receive the players in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall as sort of a “kick-off,” and give them the olive tree as a symbol of dialogue and peace, reported ANSA.

In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, Roberto Dabusti, spokesman for the charity Scholas Occurentes, spoke about the match, Scholas’ meeting at the Vatican, and new initiatives.

He said those representing more than 300,000 registered schools from some 35 American, European, and African countries will discuss the foundation’s recent initiatives and experiences Sept. 1-4, as well as present a digital platform.

Since it will be used to improve the interchange between schools, he added, the tool has been termed a sort of «facebook education.» 

To join the network, schools can log on to their web site, register and start interacting with each other. “With the launch of the new platform, digital communication will be even faster,” he said.

Scholas Occurrentes is a developing movement comprising a network of schools working within education, based on the pillars of technology, art, culture, and especially sports. It is not an independent foundation, but an institution that develops in the context of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, led by Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo.

Founded in Argentina, the Pope wants Scholas Occurrentes to have a place in the Vatican.

“We are just following the program and the work stated by Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires,” the Scholas’ spokesman said. «We have been working on the strategic plan and how to extend the network in the world” as the Pope requested, he said.

Monday’s match, Dabusti noted, is not only intended to promote the values ​​of peace, but also to support the initiatives of their foundation. “It’s an important event,” he said, as “fifty of the most famous footballers in the world, belonging to different religions, will participate.”

Responding to how sport can spread Scholas’ message, he noted: “In recent months, taking advantage of the World Cup in Brazil, we have organized a unique initiative. On the same day of the opening of the championship, the «world of education” was launched, an opportunity to rediscover the children also other realities beyond football.

In Argentina, he said, about 10,000 children have been involved in various activities, such as visiting the museum of football and the Houses of Parliament, sending a message to the Pope, and planting a “virtual” olive tree for peace.

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