By Devin Watkins
Pope Francis met on Wednesday with a delegation of riders competing in the San Marino and Rimini Coast’s motorcycle Grand Prix Octo.
The sporting event takes place Sunday, September 9th in the northeastern Italian town of Misano Adriatico, near the Republic of San Marino.
Sport an educational tool
Speaking to the MotoGP racers, Pope Francis said sport is an irreplaceable educational tool, especially for young people.
Sport, he said, “stimulates a healthy transcendence of self and self-centeredness, teaches a spirit of sacrifice, and, if done well, inspires loyalty in interpersonal relationships, friendship, and respect for rules.”
Passion for life
Pope Francis then reflected on two concepts related to sport: passion and what it means to be a champion.
An important factor when young people commit suicide, he mused, is a lack of passion for life.
The Holy Father said sporting activities can help instill that passion. “The world needs passion,” he said, for people “to live with passion, and not like those who let life weigh them down.”
He also said the true “champion in life” is the person who lives with passion.
Promoting Christian values
Pope Francis invited the MotoGP racers to help transmit that passion for life to the many people who follow their professional activities.
“It’s important that people involved in sport’s various levels promote the human and Christian values that are at the root of a just and mutually supportive society.”
The Pope said sport promotes friendship and dialogue, “because the sporting event is expressed in universal language, which transcends borders, languages, races, religions, and ideologies.” Amateur sport is especially helpful for society, he said, since it comes from the heart.
This, the Holy Father said, gives sport “the intrinsic ability to unite people, and encourage dialogue and acceptance.”