Believers in the World of Sports

The Pontifical Council for Culture, in collaboration with the National Office for Pastoral Leisure, Tourism and Sport of the Italian Episcopal Conference called all international and national bodies of sport (professional, school associations and sport for all) for a day of encounter and testimony on the theme of Believing in the World of Sport in the Vatican on Oct. 21st, 2013.

The Seminar

Sportivi italiani dal Papa, 17 dicembre 2012
The President of the Italian Olympic sporting federation presents Benedict XVI with the Olympic flame, 17 December 2012

The year of faith is also an occasion for the world of sport, which is facing challenging times, to reflect on its own identity. Indeed, the religious crisis and the rampant, widespread, moral relativism of our society brings worrying repercussions to the world of sport. We speak of relativism inasmuch people live their own personal spirituality, active or dormant, in the internal space of each person’s conscience, without credible witnesses, points of reference or social models which can be of inspiration.

“Next to a sport that helps a person, lies one that damages; next to a sport that exalts the body lies another that mortifies and betrays it; next to a sport that seeks out noble ideals, lies another that seeks only to gain profit; next to a sport that unites; lies one that divides” (John Paul II)

Even in spite of these ambiguities, we are profoundly convinced that the practice of sport must be considered not only as the foundation of well-being, but ‘as a courageous, positive and optimistic ideal and as an integral renewal of the person and of society’ (John Paul II)

In the world of sport there is no shortage of testimonies to faith,which illuminate humanity’s approach towards Christ, who died and rose for us. These testimonies remind us of the necessary courage required when making choices and of the continual tensions that exist within the outreach towards hope, even in the difficult and troubled times in which we are living.

Since the world of sport cannot remain indifferent to the needs and requests from the people of today, the strong and credible testimonies of athletes, and our brothers and sisters will be an extraordinary occasion for reflecting and confronting the educational, cultural, and spiritual values within the experience of sport.

Programme, Monday 21st October 2013

9:00 a.m.         Welcoming Remarks  Msgr. Melchor Sánchez, Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture

9:10                 In the Beginning Was Play • His Eminence Gianfranco Cardinal Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture

9:50                 Comments by Participants

10:15               Coffee Break

10:35                          Sports Reveal Human Beings to Themselves Rev. John Swinton, Professor of Practical Theology and Pastoral Care, University of Aberdeen

10:55               The Value of the Body in Disability • Cristina Gangemi, Specialist in Disability and the Theology of the Human Body

11:15               Comments and Personal Testimony: Ronald Nelson, James Parker, and other participants

1:00 p.m.         Lunch Break

3:00                 Sports Are Not Self-Sufficient • Sergio Belardinelli, Professor of the Sociology of Cultural Processes, University of Bologna 

3:30                 Sports Reveal the Face of God to Human Beings • Edio Costantini, Former President of the Italian Sports Center (Centro Sportivo Italiano)

4:00                 Presentation of the School of Thought on Sports and Human Openness to the Absolute • Rev. David G. Murray, M.Id, formerly Chaplain at the Foro Italico Sports University in Rome

4:20                 Comments and Personal Testimony: Rev. Luigi Ciotti and other participants

5:30                 Conclusions • Msgr. Mario Lusek, Director of the National Office for Sports of the Italian Bishops’ Conference