During the papal trip to the U.K. this week, Pope Benedict XVI will launch a sports foundation in honor of the late John Paul II.
The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales announced Monday that on Sept. 16, the Holy Father will launch a sports legacy in honor of John Paul II at St Mary’s University College in Twickenham. The conference noted that 32 children who have excelled at sports in the U.K. have been selected from state, independent and special needs schools to participate with Pope Benedict.
The launch will take place during a school assembly that will be broadcast live to over 800,000 students across England, Scotland and Wales.
“With the Olympic Games less than two years away, we have a moment of opportunity and a whole process in which the aspirations of young people, the meanings of habit and routine in their lives, and the whole notion of achieving excellence can begin to be lifted up again,” said London Archbishop Vincent Nichols on the creation of the foundation.
“Within the 2012 Games there are seeds for all sorts of good ideas and good initiatives,” he added. “The John Paul II Foundation for Sport is a venture that I am particularly interested in as it uses sport to try and introduce to young and old alike the importance of health, the dignity of our bodies, the care of physical well-being and its spiritual meaning.”
Organizers for the John Paul II sports foundation in the U.K said that the purpose of the initiative is to draw on Catholic spirituality in imparting virtues, fitness and leadership among the youth. A similar effort was founded in Rome in 2008.
Professor Simon Lee, chair of the board for the John Paul II Foundation for Sport, said that through “this initiative, the Church is inviting all-comers to join in creating a joyful legacy for 2012 and beyond, in the spirit of John Paul II’s love of sport.”
“It is not only because of his personal interest that the Church sees value in sport properly understood and practiced. We are grateful to Pope Benedict XVI for generously launching this Foundation in honor of his predecessor and as a gift to wider society,” Lee noted. “As Pope Pius XII put it in 1945, 'How can the Church not be interested in sport?'”
“All who love sport are invited to join this new Foundation in promoting practical opportunities to share in its very best values.”