.- Less than 100 days before the 2010 Football World Cup in South Africa, the Catholic bishops of the country have launched a website that delivers Catholic information relevant to the event. Planned for the site is a “virtual chapel” where soccer fans can leave prayer intentions for their teams.
The website, produced by the South African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SABC), will regularly publish news and information about churches and communities near the competition stadiums. It also explains the activities of the Catholic Church and the importance of sports in African cultures.
The just-launched website, www.ChurchOnTheBall.com, opens with a graphical menu showing a soccer stadium during a game. In the distant stands, fans hold a large banner that reads “Fans for Jesus.”
A letter from Archbishop of Durban Cardinal Wilifrid Napier introduced the website. He wrote that the World Cup offers a “unique opportunity” since it is the first to be held in Africa.
“This is an opportunity to highlight the important role that sport plays in our African cultures. Sport requires patience, perseverance, respect ... all values which our societies, and particularly Africa, much need! All values that the Church does not cease to advocate: Charity, dialogue with other religions and cultures, love of neighbor … ”
“Let us seize this opportunity to offer the world an example of a living church and sports,” Cardinal Napier continued. “Let us not be afraid to move forward, as often recalled John Paul II. Let us not be afraid to go full tilt, with faith and courage as athletes!”
In addition to spiritual information, the cardinal explained, the site contains reflections on sports and the Church, human trafficking, and HIV/AIDS.
The website’s “virtual chapel” will feature virtual candles that can be lit for a R10 donation, about $1.34. The donations will be used for charity projects within the South African Church.