.- In a letter to the Archbishop of Vancouver, the Holy Father expressed his happiness for the occasion of the 21st Winter Olympic Games and the 10th Paralympic Winter Games to be celebrated between February and March.
The Pope noted the importance of the event for everyone involved and recalled the words of John Paul II, who said that sport "can make an effective contribution to peaceful understanding between people and to establishing the new civilization of love."
With those words in mind, Pope Benedict added, "may sport always be a valued building block of peace and friendship between people and nations."
The Holy Father also referred to the "More Than Gold" initiative in his message and prayed that all those who make use of the spiritual and material assistance the effort provides for the games "will be confirmed in their love of God and neighbor."
According to an article on the "More Than Gold" website, Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver lent his support to this ecumenical initiative, which he said offers "a united outreach during this once-in-a-lifetime experience."
"We join with others to speak in one voice and offer services in the spirit of social justice and loving Christian witness," he said, as he defined the strategy of their work to provide "radical hospitality" during the games including homestays, prayer and social initiatives for the duration of the Games.
Pope Benedict ended his message with the traditional apostolic blessing upon everyone associated with the Olympic Games.