Pope Francis: 'Sports are a sign of hope amidst war'

Pope Francis greets a delegation of the European Swimming League ahead of the European Aquatics Championships, set to take place in Rome in August, and praises the unifying power of sports.

By Lisa Zengarini

As Rome prepares to host the European Aquatics Championships from 11-21 August, Pope Francis reiterated that sports helps cultivate human friendship and fraternity, amidst winds of war blowing on Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

Sports needed now more than ever

He made these remarks on Monday, while meeting a delegation of the European Swimming League in the Vatican, ahead of the sporting event in which some 11,000 athletes from 52 countries are expected to take part in over 500 competitions.

“These days, we need sports more than ever – real sports! – as a counterbalance to the conflict and hostility weighing down on our world and, sadly, also our continent of Europe.”

During the audience, he read a message to the athletes welcoming the European Championships. He said, “every great sporting event is a special moment when young people from different countries can encounter and interact with one another, and that is a wonderful sign of hope for the future of our human family."

Desire for a world of peace

“It is also appropriate," he noted, "because Rome is historically a universal city, open to the world, the city from which the Church spreads everywhere the Gospel of fraternity."

While remarking that the war in Ukraine casts its shadow on the event, the Pope expressed hope “that this will make us all the more committed to showing our desire for a world of peace, a world without wars, without hatred between peoples, without nuclear threats."

Friendship and fraternity

In conclusion, Pope Francis said he prays that the European Championships in Rome will be for all participants “a serene and joyful experience of friendship and fraternity” and imparted his blessing on all participants.


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04 July 2022, 10:42