“May your sports club always be an open house, where you are able to experience brotherhood and harmony among people.”
Pope Francis made this statement when speaking this morning to members of the famous sports club, S.S. Lazio.
In his remarks, the Pontiff encouraged the players to continue being welcoming and valuing different talents.
Reflecting on the club’s Latin motto, taken from Sallust “Concordia res parvae crescunt, discordia maximae dilabuntur,” Pope Francis joked, “It would be interesting to ask if any of you know the translation… But maybe it’s better not!”
“It is not really difficult,” the Jesuit explained, “Harmony will make small things flourish, discord will destroy great things.”
“Your long history has confirmed this ancient judgment: born as a small athletics club, ‘Lazio’ over the years has been enriched by diverse associated activities and has been organized in numerous sports sections.” The Holy Father went on to thank them for giving equal status to all sports.
Founded in 1900, the S.S. Lazio sports club intended to provide access to sports activities to all levels of society, not only for the wealthy, as was common at the time.
The members, athletes, and supporters of all ages, he pointed out, have in common the “Olympic spirit” and the “desire for mutual solidarity.”
“In Italy, – and it is also like this in my country, Argentina – you risk speaking always about football, and overlook other sports,” the Pope said.
“Rather,” he noted, “each sporting discipline has its own value, not only physical or social, but also moral, since it offers the possibility to people – especially to children and young people – to grow in balance, self-control, sacrifice and loyalty to the others.”
The human person exists in unity of “spirit and body,” the Pope reminded them, encouraging them to cultivate both of these as they continue their sporting endeavors.
He also told them not to forget their religious and spiritual dimension. “What sometimes happens,” he said, “is that a boy or a girl, for training or competition, misses Mass, or catechism.”
“This is not a good sign,” Francis said, “It means that the person has lost the balance in his life.”
The Pope also warned against neglecting studying, friendships, or service to the poor.
“Thanks be to God we have some beautiful examples of men and women athletes, even great champions, who never stopped living the faith and serving others,” Pope Francis said.
“In fact,” he underscored, “true sport encourages the building of a world with more fraternity and solidarity, contributing to the alleviation of injustice and of human and social distress.” (D.C.L.)