Vatican City, Aug 13, 2013 / 16:05 pm
Following a century of Popes who have been enthusiastic about sports, Pope Francis met with the Italian and Argentine soccer teams, urging them to contribute to the common good in their calling.
“This is a social responsibility! Let me explain: In the game, when you are on the field, you find beauty, generosity, camaraderie. If a game is missing this, it loses its might, even if the team wins,” Pope Francis told the teams during an Aug. 13 audience at the Vatican's Clementine Hall.
Calling the values of generosity, camaraderie and beauty the “amateur” attitude of sports, he said that “when an athlete, even as a 'pro,' cultivates this 'amateur' dimension, he is contributing to the good of society, he is building up the common good.”
The Italian and Argentine national soccer teams are in Rome for a friendly match to be held Wednesday night to honor Pope Francis' pontificate. They will play in the city's Olympic Stadium, and the Pope will be watching it on television.
He began his address, which was delivered half in Italian and half in Spanish, by thanking them for organizing their match, and expressing relief that it is for fun and won't contribute to FIFA standings.
“Really, it would be a little difficult for me to be a fan, but fortunately it’s a 'friendly,'” the Argentina native joked.
Pope Francis reminded the players that they are watched “both on and off the field,” making their lives a “social responsibility.”
He emphasized that the professional sportsman is first and foremost, always, a human person, a “bearer of humanity.”