Vatican’s new project dives into sports ethics

By David Kerr

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Seminarians in Rome participate in the 2012 Clericus Cup tournament on April 21, 2012. Credit: Centro Sportivo Italiano.

The ethics of sports will be the focus of a new initiative launched June 14 by two Vatican departments.

“Where is the world of sport moving? Where does the phenomenon of violence between soccer fans come from? What about match fixing? Doping?” asked Monsignor Melchor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, the Under-Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

In a June 14 interview with EWTN News, Msgr. Sanchez de Toca y Alameda described the world as being “choked by the market, which is suffocating the values promoted through sport.”

He believes that the ethics of sports are “interesting to all of society,” and it’s for that reason that the pontifical council wants to start a debate about it.

The initiative will be a joint venture between the Pontifical Council for Culture’s new department dedicated to Culture and Sport and the Pontifical Council for the Laity’s Church and Sport Section, which has been in operation since 2004.

Both will work closely with the John Paul II Foundation for Sport, which was launched by Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to England in 2010.

Father Kevin Lixey of the Pontifical Council for the Laity explained to EWTN News that the new initiative “is collaboration between the two Vatican departments.” He was keen to stress that the new project will be a “school of thought” that will have an intellectual and practical focus.

“Obviously the contribution of the Pontifical Council for Culture is more about culture and ours is more about pastoral ministry but, nevertheless, it is a synergy,” Fr. Lixey said.

The launch of the new Vatican initiative comes in the middle of a summer of sport. Soccer’s European Championships are currently being hosted by the Ukraine and Poland, while next month will feature the opening of the 2012 Olympics in London.

In terms of a display of sporting virtues, however, Fr. Lixey is most looking forward to the summer’s “other” Olympics that gets underway in London in August.

“I am more and more interested all the time by the Paralympics” because one can see athletes “compete at a high level, having overcome even more obstacles,” he said.

“They show in a very palpable way a great strength of will power, great human strength, which touches me deeply.”

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