Pope Francis: Sport, a school that teaches rules and respect

Pope Francis meets with members of the Italian Sports Centre which is celebrating its 75th anniversary

This year the Italian Sports Centre is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its foundation. The Centre has more than one million two hundred thousand members and is made up of clubs and sports associations, as well as members and affiliated parish sports groups throughout Italy.

Greeting the 400 members in the Clementine Hall on Saturday, which included young people and coaches, Pope Francis noted how the Italian Sports Centre offered young people, through sport, a healthy and positive lifestyle, based on the Christian vision of the person and society. Sport, in fact, he said, “is a great school, provided that you live it with self-control and respect for others.”

Rules and limits

The Pope emphasized that it was important to accept defeat and work within the framework of the rules governing a particular discipline.

“When you face a competition, he said, you learn that rules are essential to live together; that happiness is not found in unruliness, but in pursuing your goals faithfully; and you also learn that you no longer feel free when you have no limits, but when, with your own limits, you give your best.” “We must be masters of our limits and not slaves to our limits.”

Sport and the Christian vision

The Pope pointed out that sport is a tool that can be used for problem solving and to “achieve a profound transformation of our society.”

He explained that it “can foster a culture of dialogue and respectful encounters.” The world we dream about, Pope Francis said, is one based on “healthy competition, which always sees the opponent as a friend and a brother.”

He continued by saying that friendship and brotherhood was at “the heart of the Christian vision of man”. This Christian vision, the Pope underlined, “means learning to look at others and things with the very eyes of Jesus,” adding that from the “Gospel comes a more beautiful and just world, in which the diversity of others is not a reason for division, but for growth and mutual help.”

Concluding his remarks, Pope Francis encouraged those present to live this Christian spirit in the parishes where they work.

The Pope urged them to be close to those “who are weakest because of a disability, so that they may participate in the various activities together with others and never feel excluded. He also invited them to accompany those who are involved in international voluntary sports projects, in different countries, which he said, “represent a precious sign for our time.”

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