By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
A new foundation that will promote the values of the Gospel through sports was presented by the Vatican on Monday.
The John Paul II Foundation for Sports will run under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. It’s first mission will be to organize a three-year program of national and international sporting events focused on promoting the dignity of the human person, especially among young people.
Bishop Carlo Mazza of Fidenza, consultor of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, said the new foundation was named after Pope John Paul II who often addressed the subject of sports as a way to bring people together in peace and to learn teamwork, self-control and respect for rules.
“With his extraordinary intuition, John Paul II understood immediately the value of sport precisely in our present cultural moment,” explained Bishop Mazza.
“Hence, it is not about making sport an absolute value, which would be incomprehensible, but of being based on factual data, in the experience and global extension of the sporting event. It is an endeavor to perceive the positive events to interpret them in the light of the faith,” he said.
The foundation will promote values such as good sportsmanship at international sporting events as well as parish-based initiatives.
“The creation of the foundation and the beginning of its activities coincides, not by coincidence, with the Pauline Year,” said the Foundation’s president, Edio Costantini to SIR News. “In his letters, St. Paul often referred to the Christian life as an athletic race that, in the end, would be awarded with an incorruptible crown.”
The first undertaking of the John Paul II Foundation for Sports will be a series of marathons “in the footsteps of St. Paul,” to take place between Bethlehem and Rome. The marathons are expected to begin next April 24 and end June 21 in St. Peter’s Square with an international symposium on “The Social and Educational Values of Sports.”
Athletes will meet with Pope Benedict XVI and attend a “sports village” in St. Peter’s Square, where young people could play soccer, ping pong and basketball.
The foundation’s promotional material highlight six values taught by sports: respect for one’s body, knowing how to lose, knowing how to win, discipline, practice and hard work, all values found in St. Paul’s epistles.
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