Today, June 1, 2018 the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life published a new document entitled “To Give the Best of Oneself. On the Christian Perspective of Sport and of the Human Person.” This marks the first document of the Holy See on sport.
The document is divided into five chapters: Chapter 1: the relationship between the Church and sport; Chapters 2 & 3: a description of the sporting phenomenon with a close look at the human person; Chapter 4: some of today’s challenges that sport must face; Chapter 5: the Church and the pastoral approach to sport.
In a press conference at the Holy See Press Office this morning, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery; researcher Antonella Stelitano, member of the Italian Society of the History of Sport (Societa Italiana di Storia dello Sport); Jesuit Father Patrick Kelly, Professor of Theology at Seattle University (U.S.A.) and Santiago Perez de Camino, in charge of the Dicastery’s “Church and Sport” Office, presented the text.
The document, Cardinal Farrell explained, stemmed from a project already undertaken by the then Pontifical Council for the Laity, to which Saint John Paul II had entrusted the task of being a point of reference for sporting associations at international and national level, and of inspiring in the local Churches a renewed awareness of the pastoral care of sporting environments.
The document, the Prefect explained, does not claim to respond to all the questions and challenges that the world of sport poses today, but rather seeks to “recount” the relationship between sport and the experience of faith, and to offer a Christian vision of sporting practice.
“Giving the best of yourself” is without doubt,” said Cardinal Farrell, “an expression that can be applied both in the field of sport and in that of faith.”
“On the one hand, in fact, it recalls the effort, the sacrifice that a sportsperson must take on as a constant in his or her life to obtain a victory or simply to arrive at the goal. But also in the area of faith,” he noted, “we are called upon to give the best of ourselves to arrive at holiness, which as the Pope has shown in Gaudete et exsultate, is a universal call, addressed to all, including sportspeople.”
It is not by chance that the Holy Father, in the message that accompanies this Document, the Cardinal said, writes that “sports can be an instrument of encounter, formation, mission, and sanctification”.
“It is not a text for scholars or researches, but rather a reflection on the state of sport today, accompanied by indications and suggestions that may undoubtedly be useful not only for the Episcopal Conferences and the dioceses to develop a pastoral approach to sport, but also to amateur clubs and associations, and individual athletes, for reflecting on Christian life and on the way of practicing sport.”
According to a Holy See Press Office statement regarding the document, numerous lay collaborators took part in the document’s redaction, among others Italian Daniele Pasquini, President of the CDI Rome (sports center); Dries Vanysacker, Professor Theology at the KU Leuven University at Louvain (Belgium); Alexandre Borges de Magalhaes, General Coordinator of the Christian Life movement of Peru and Manoj Sunny, former Olympic athlete in India and Founder of the “Jesus Youth” Movement.