Pope Benedict: sports, properly practiced, can build respect, loyalty and solidarity between people and cultures

.- Among the nearly 26,000 pilgrims present for the Pope's general audience today in St. Peter's Square were representatives from the UEFA and "Gioco Calcio" sport federations, to whom the Holy Father spoke of the spiritual importance of sport--activities which, he said, can bring respect, loyalty and solidarity between peoples.

The Pope gave a special greeting to Italian-speaking pilgrims present at today's audience, and addressed delegations from the executive committee of UEFA and from the Italian "Gioco Calcio" Federation, who were accompanied by a large group of young people.

Youth from 16 countries, accompanied by their respective ambassadors, are currently in Italy participating in the "Calcio-Cares" project, which is being organized in collaboration with the Pontifical "Cor Unum" Council.

Pope Benedict told the group that, "Your presence gives me the opportunity to shed light on the importance of sport, a discipline which, if practiced in respect for the rules, becomes an educational instrument and a vehicle for important human and spiritual values."

"May today's initiative", he said, "also serve to revitalize in each of you the commitment to ensure that sport contributes to building a society characterized by mutual respect, loyalty of behavior, and solidarity between peoples and cultures."

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