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During Pope’s 1st Audience in Months, Pope Tells Young Athletes That Doing for Others Is What Gives Joy

Small Group Stayed Socially Distant in Pope’s Library Following General Audience

Marking his first audience in months, yesterday, May 20, 2020, after his weekly Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis received a small number of athletes who were to participate today, May 21, in an international event called “We Run Together.”
They were received and kept socially distant in the Pope’s library, announced the Holy See Press Office in an evening bulletin.

According to a press release, the event had been organized by the Vatican Athletic association in collaboration with the athletic group Fiamme Gialle, or Yellow Flames of the Italian law enforcement agency that covers financial crimes, the Pontifical Council for Culture’s “Courtyard of the Gentiles” and the Italian Federation of Light Athletics of Lazio.

The Pope addressed those present with a few words and, afterwards, read them a message addressed, for the occasion, to all sportsmen. ZENIT has translated both sets of remarks below.

Addressing the athletes, Francis stressed that sports build bridges, and expressed appreciation that their initiatives will help benefit the “Pope John XXIII” hospital in Bergamo and the “Poliambulance Foundation” in Brescia, located in Italy’s hard-hit Lombardy region.

“It is a way of showing gratitude,” the Pope said, noting the medical personal “are heroes.”

The Holy Father also underscored that doing for others, is what gives authentic joy.

Pope Francis concluded, encouraging those in the group to live out their passion for sport as “an experience of unity and solidarity.”

“It is specifically the true values of sports,” the Argentine Pope known for loving soccer said, “that are particularly important in facing this period of the pandemic and above all, the difficult aftermath.”

“And in this spirit,” he said, “I invite you to run, together, on the track of life.”

The Holy Father asked them to pray for him and imparted his Apostolic Blessing.

Here’s a ZENIT working translation of the Pope’s words and his message:

* * *

The Holy Father’s Words

I thank all of you for the work you do: each one does something for the community, for others. And this is joy, no? <It is> the joy of doing something for others. And then, consequently, one receives from others. However, what the Cardinal mentioned, the joy of giving, of offering, of offering the beauty of sport, <within> each one’s possibility: to offer something that I have for the joy and happiness of others. And this is great, it is a human attitude; it is creative. And people even offer their life for others: mothers for their children, fathers for their children, and many others . . . to give something of mine for others. And you give beauty to others — the beauty of sport. This is something important: to understand how to give beauty. This helps, because what you are doing isn’t an exercise, let’s say of practice of speed or of games, no. This is true, but there is more. It is to give to others. It is that motto of the Association that is so important: you are not detached from others, “You run together,” together. And there is always an attitude that we find in that passage of the Gospel, of the two disciples that ran to Jesus’ sepulchre on the morning of the Resurrection (Cf. John 20:3-6). The youngest {John] arrives first, and then the older one {Peter] stayed behind, but there is always the respect of waiting for the other. And there is an ancient Medieval rule for pilgrims, for those that did pilgrimages to Shrines in the Middle Ages — they are also done today; we think of Santiago de Compostela, for instance — a rule that states: One must go in step with the one who is weakest, with the one who walks more slowly. “No, but I go first . . . “ No. One must keep up, as John did: yes, he arrived first, but he waited for the other. This is a very beautiful thing, which we must learn, as humanity: to walk in step with persons that have another rhythm, or at least consider them and integrate them in our step.

Thank you. Thank you for all this. And now I would like to give a . . . but, let’s say it as it is: an address, so that for all the Associations, for all of you, it remains as a Message of this meeting with you.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

The Holy Father’s Message

Dear Friends, Dear Sports Friends.

Tomorrow, May 21, the Castel Porziano International Meeting of Athletica “We Run Together – Simul Currebant, should have taken place. Olympic champions would have raced, for the first time, with paralympic athletes, athletes with mental disabilities, and with refugees, migrants and prisoners, who would also be judges of the competition — all together and with the same dignity. A concrete testimony of what sports should be: namely, a “bridge” that unites women and men of different religions and cultures, promoting inclusion, friendship, solidarity <and> education, namely, a “bridge” of peace.

Tomorrow one won’t be able to run with the legs, but one can run with the heart. The ‘spirit” of this Meeting, <which is> inclusive and solidary: to run together. And thus the very many athletes that have adhered — and that, with pleasure, I would have met personally — will make available some sports objects and experiences for a charity initiative. All the proceeds will go to the health personnel of the “Pope John XXIII “ Hospital of Bergamo and to the <”General Ambulance> Foundation” of Brescia, both symbols of the fight against the pandemic, which has affected the whole planet. It is an initiative to help and to thank the men and women nurses, and the hospital staff. They are heroes! They are all living their profession as a vocation, heroically, putting their own life at risk for others” (Cf. John 15:13).

I’m happy that Athletica Vaticana is promoting this initiative, <it is> a reality that witnesses concretely, on the streets and amid the people, the solidary face of sport. The first gesture of Athletica Vaticana was that of receiving, as “honorary” athletes, some migrant young people and a girl with a grave neurodegenerative disease. They came here today to meet with me.

Collaborating with Athletica Vaticana in this initiative are the Yellow Flames, the Sports Group of the Finance Police, and the “Courtyard of the Gentiles,” a structure of the Pontifical Council for Culture, which promotes encounters and dialogue between believers and non-believers. They have all always shown particular sensitivity in addressing the real needs of people, in particular for families assisted by the Saint Martha Paediatric Clinic, active for almost one hundred years here in the Vatican. Collaborating together with them also, in this inclusive sports project for all, is the Fidal-Lazio Regional Committee.

I encourage you, dear sports friends, to live ever more your passion as an experience of unity and solidarity. In fact, the true values of sport are particularly important to face this time of pandemic and, especially, the difficult recovery. And I invite you to run together, with this spirit, the race of life. Thank you for all that you do.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

About Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, at times from the papal flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has done television and radio commentary, including for Vatican Radio, Sky, and BBC. She is a contributor to National Catholic Register, UK Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside the Vatican, and other Catholic news outlets. She has also collaborated with the Vatican in various projects, including an internship at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and is a collaborator with NBC Universal, NBC News, Euronews, and EWTN. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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