Catholic Athletic League: Pope Francis

Wednesday, October 30

Vatican unveils new focus on sporting events for Year of Faith (Vatican Radio)

The Pontifical Council for Culture announced on Tuesday a number of new sporting events aimed at raising the importance of sports during this year of faith. These include the launch of the Vatican’s very own cricket team and a race that will take place next Sunday up to St Peter’s Square, where participants will be greeted by Pope Francis following the Angelus prayer. Philippa Hitchen ran along to the press conference to find out more……

Listen: RealAudioMP3 ‘I have finished the race: I have kept the faith’ Those words of St Paul in his second letter to Timothy are at the heart of a number of initiatives announced by the Vatican’s Council for Culture in order to raise the profile of sports within the Catholic world. It’s not just St Paul’s sporting quotations either, since the New Testament is full of different words and expressions comparing our journey through life to a race or a competition, to which we must dedicate our minds and train our bodies. Noting how last year’s London Olympics featured many athletes who spoke openly about their faith, Council officials have organised a 100 metres relay race up the Via della Conciliazione leading to St Peter’s Square for Sunday October 20th. Msgr Melchor Sanchez de Toca is undersecretary of the Council for Culture:

“We wanted to bring sports to the place where St Peter gave his confession of faith, to bring the attention of the Church on sports and to bring sports into the Church… It connects the City of Rome with the Vatican ….I think it would be a very powerful image to see a bishop or cardinal in a track suit running….the Pope will greet participants at the end of the Angelus..”

The race features facilities for disabled athletes and commentary by well-known sporting personalities, keen to shift the focus from growing financial interests back to the more traditional values of sport as an expression of harmony between body and spirit. But this race is just the beginning of a new sporting focus for the Vatican: also announced on Tuesday was a high level event for Olympic athletes in 2014, plus the launch of the Holy See’s own cricket team – watch this space for more details on who’ll be going in to bat and who’ll be behind the wicket Text from page of the Vatican Radio website

Thursday, August 29

NFL Star Passes to Pope Francis By Stephen White

Philip Rivers is the quarterback for the San Diego Chargers. But you probably knew that. He’s also Catholic. You might have known about that. (It’s not a secret.)

What you probably didn’t know about, unless you read the L.A. Times, is this charming little episode involving Pope Francis and the youngest of Rivers’ six kids. The Times has the story: SAN DIEGO — The most meaningful pass of Philip Rivers’ life wound up in the arms of the pope. It happened in May, when the San Diego Chargers quarterback and his extended family visited the Vatican and were in a crowd of thousands for a Wednesday papal audience. Rivers, a devout Catholic, had a prime spot in the crowd and was holding the youngest of his six children, Pete, who will turn 2 in October.” I was about 10 yards away, and the crowd kind of opened up,” Rivers said. “Pope Francis just kind of motioned like, ‘Bring him to me.’ Pete was like, ‘No! What are you doing?!” But we passed him to the pope. It was awesome. The pope kissed him, blessed him. We got great pictures of it.”

Not the most consequential story, I know. But given the alternatives in the news these days, I’ll take it. 

Thursday, August 1

A field is a training ground. Jesus asks us to follow him for life, he asks us to be his disciples, to "play on his team". I think that most of you love sports! Here in Brazil, as in other countries, football is a national passion. Now, what do players do when they are asked to join a team? They have to train, and to train a lot! The same is true of our lives as the Lord’s disciples. Saint Paul tells us: "athletes deny themselves all sorts of things; they do this to win a crown of leaves that withers, but we a crown that is imperishable" (1 Cor 9:25). Jesus offers us something bigger than the World Cup! He offers us the possibility of a fulfilled and fruitful life; he also offers us a future with him, an endless future, eternal life. But he asks us to train, "to get in shape", so that we can face every situation in life undaunted, bearing witness to our faith. How do we get in shape? By talking with him: by prayer, which is our daily conversation with God, who always listens to us. By the sacraments, which make his life grow within us and conform us to Christ. By loving one another, learning to listen, to understand, to forgive, to be accepting and to help others, everybody, with no one excluded or ostracized. Dear young people, be true "athletes of Christ"!

Pope Francis at World Youth Day, July 27, 2013