The Church considers sport as an indispensable educational tool when practiced in accordance with the rules of the game. This was the message Pope Francis gave to a number of cyclists who visited him at the Vatican before participating in the traditional “Gran Premio Octo di San Marino and Rimini Riviera.”
The cyclists were led by the President of the Italian National Olympic Committee, Giovanni Malagò who delivered a short speech before the Pontiff.
The Pope told the cyclists: “Your presence gives me the opportunity to underline the importance of sport in today’s society. The Church considers sporting activity, practiced with full respect of the rules, as a valid educational tool especially for the younger generations; indeed, it is indispensable. The phenomenon of sport, in fact, stimulates a healthy overcoming of oneself and of selfishness, trains the spirit of sacrifice and, if well practiced, inspires loyalty in interpersonal relationships, friendship, and respect for the rules.
“It is important that those involved in sports, at various levels, promote those human and Christian values that underlie a more just and supportive society. This is possible because the sporting event is expressed in a universal language that transcends borders, languages, races, religions and ideologies. This is seen above all in amateur sport, which comes from the heart. Therefore, it possesses the intrinsic capacity to unite people, fostering dialogue and acceptance.
“I encourage you to spread the values of sport: in this way you will contribute to building a more just and supportive society. And I would like to focus on two words that the president said. One is “passion”: when I read the news about suicide among young people – and there are many – but what happened there? At least I can say that in that life “passion” was lacking, someone did not know how to sow the passions to live. And then difficulties were not faced with this passion. Spread passion: this world needs passions, passion. Live with passion, and not like someone who bears life like a burden. Passion is moving forward.
“And the second phrase is: “champion of life”. Yes, one can become a champion in sporting success, a champion of a team, and so on … But “champion of life” is someone who lives with passion; one who lives with fullness is able to live like this. “Passion” and “champion of life”: two beautiful phrases, concluded Pope Francis.