At today’s General Audience, the soccer team AC Ancona, was received by Pope Benedict and presented him with a number 16 jersey.
The division three team was recently acquired by a sporting association run by Catholic Action, whose leaders are named directly by the Italian Bishops’ Conference. The team has been dubbed “the priest’s team” because it has adopted an ethical code regarding fair play and for doing works of charity .
“It is a way of ‘moralizing’ soccer, to bring back a bit of ethics into a sector that has undergone a grave crisis of values”, explained Archbishop of Ancona, Edoardo Menichelli, in a recent interview.
The Vatican Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone, had been the one to initially mention the idea of a “Vatican team”, to play at the A level with other big name teams, such as Roma, Juventus, Milan, and Inter. However, the press secretary for the Vatican, Fr. Federico Lombardi made clear yesterday that AC Ancona is not a “Vatican team”.
The players of AC Ancona presented their new jersey to the Holy Father at the audience, and met with him privately afterwards.