Olympians Welcomed With the Word

Dioceses Promoting Historical, Cultural and Religious Heritage

TURIN, Italy, FEB. 12, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Participants in the Winter Olympics are being welcomed with the gift of the Gospel, compliments of the dioceses of Turin, Pinerolo and Susa.

The dioceses are distributing copies of St. Mark’s Gospel in parishes, hotels and lodgings in Turin, as part of the Church’s program to promote the area’s historical, cultural and religious heritage.

In addition to the Gospel initiative, the dioceses constructed a religious center in the Olympic Village to offer athletes and their delegations a place for reflection.

The Office of Tourism, Sports and Leisure of the Italian episcopal conference, directed by Monsignor Carlo Mazza, promoted the project.

In order to welcome as many participants as possible, the dioceses are distributing the Gospel in seven languages.

Additionally, pamphlets in French, English and German are available in all churches with information on celebrations, prepared by the liturgical office of the Archdiocese of Turin, including the liturgy of the three Sundays in which the Olympics will be taking place.

Prayer vigils

Churches are being kept open for longer hours, and pamphlets are available describing their historical and cultural characteristics. Priests and lay people are present in the churches to welcome visitors.

Prayer vigils will be held in Turin, and a musical concert celebrating the Christian faith will be presented this Thursday in the Fraiteve cinema in the town of Sestriere.

In a pamphlet prepared by the Italian episcopal conference, Monsignor Mazza explains that the Olympics “express the beauty of sport, athletes’ indescribable capability, and their capacity to represent the best of themselves to the world with memorable athletic gestures.”

“Sport is a gift of God,” it says, quoting Pope John Paul II.

It also quotes Benedict XVI’s message for these games, which states that it is an occasion of “eloquent friendship” and of “relations of understanding in solidarity among peoples.”

Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop of Turin, thanked the city of Turin on Wednesday, which collaborated with the archdiocese in the organization of the concert, and welcomed all those who arrived in the city for the Winter Olympics.

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