NEW YORK, NOV. 4, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Sport is a way to bring peoples of different cultures and nationalities together, to overcome conflict and to promote personal development, says the Vatican.
Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, said this Wednesday to the 62nd session of the U.N. General Assembly on sport for peace and development.
Although the history of sport goes back to the earliest civilizations, explained the archbishop, today it “has become a mass phenomenon capable of engaging huge crowds on a grand scale, breaking geographic, racial, social, economic, political and cultural barriers.”
“Sport practiced in a healthy and harmonious way is a means to bring together peoples of different cultures and traditions in a respectful and peaceful manner,” he said. “Through greater use of sport as dialogue and encounter, the Greek tradition of Olympic Truce can give way to genuine and long-lasting peace.”
The Vatican representative recalled that sport can bring together members of warring factions, and although the “moments of unity may be brief and at times fleeting, nonetheless they are an important reminder that in human experience there are many more things that bind us together than those that tear us apart.”
Archbishop Migliore also commented on the role of sport in “greater personal and social development.”
“Through sport,” he said, “the person develops one’s creativity and talent, overcomes personal challenges, acquires a sense of belonging and solidarity, learns discipline and a sense of sacrifice. These values redound to the benefit of the greater community and help us understand the value of the common good over personal glory.”
The archbishop acknowledged the problem of “abuse and deviance in the practice of sport, which lead to a sports culture devoid of human values,” but insisted that “the world of sport continues to have authentic role models and generous protagonists who strive to reclaim the ideal of sport as a real school of humanity, camaraderie, solidarity and excellence.”
Archbishop Migliore continued, “A renewed and widely shared emphasis on a human-centered approach to sport would help ensure that the important virtues learned through sports become one of the means for developing and fostering healthy and responsible human interactions.”
The Vatican representative spoke of the Olympic Games, to be held in 2008 in Beijing, and recalled that the “Olympic Creed reminds us that the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle.”
“May the 2008 Olympic Games,” he said, “contribute to the common struggle to make the world a better place for one and all, through the promotion of the inseparable and mutually re-enforcing values of peace, development and full respect for basic human rights.”