Vatican

The village experience that comes from sport

Pope Francis has granted a long interview to the Italian sports daily "La Gazzetta dello Sport" and closely addresses the link between spiritual faith and faith in soccer, showing how it is necessary, first of all, to train the heart to achieve true happiness.

Giovanni Tridente-January 15, 2021-Reading time: 3 minutes

A "lay encyclical" on sport. This is how they defined it - "sympathetically"- those who made it. It is about the first interview granted by a Pontiff to a sports newspaper. "La Gazzetta dello Sport"The Italian newspaper dedicated its first edition of the new year to this interview with the Holy Father.

Pope Francis, always close to sportsmen and sports topics, met in December at his residence in Casa Santa Marta with the editor and deputy editor of the famous Milanese newspaper - which has almost one hundred and thirty years of history and an average daily circulation of more than 150,000 copies-. answering about thirty questions y underlining some key wordsranging from loyalty to commitment, sacrifice, inclusion, team spirit, asceticism and redemption.

Rag ball

But the most genuine aspects that emerge from the interview conducted by Pier Bergonzi are certainly those that bring back memories of Jorge Mario Bergoglio's childhood and youth. He goes through memories from the days spent at the stadium with his family, cheering on "your San Lorenzo"to the famous "rag ball"that as poor - "leather was expensive" - they played the role of children "to have fun and perform, almost, miracles playing in the placita close to home".

Hard foot

The Pope also comments on another aspect that has certainly marked his personality: the fact that he always put himself at "playing in the goalbecause he was one of those who in Argentina were called "...".hard leg", read awkward: "but being a goalkeeper was a great school for me. The goalkeeper has to be ready to respond to the dangers that can come from all sides...".

The people's experience

In sport, the Pontiff also glimpsed several aspects of his apostolate, such as the concept of ".membership", "to admit that alone it is not so beautiful to live, to exult, to celebrate"so that it is necessary to share fun moments with others. In this regard, there is no shortage of references to Fratelli tutti. Somehow, Francis also says that "sport is the experience of the people and their passions, it marks the personal and collective memory."elements that even authorize us to speak of a ".sporting faith".

A better world

He also made reference during the interview to personal stories that have characterized the sports world and have left their mark on people's hearts, as the "Righteous among the nations"Gino Bartali -that is how he is recognized at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem-, the Italian cyclist who during the Nazi regime, with the excuse of training on his bicycle, carried from one city to another dozens of false documents hidden in the frame of his bicycle. These documents were used to help Jews escape and thus save themselves from the Holocaust. Sports Stories "that are not an end in themselves, but that try to leave the world a little better than they found it.".

A tidy heart

The secret not to disperse talent, whether in the life of sport or of faith... and to keep the heart trained: "an orderly heart is a happy heart, in a state of grace, ready for challenge"which automatically leads to "a happiness to share". And in this the Church has certainly been a pioneer, with the numerous experiences in the shadow of the bell towers, such as the reality of the Salesian oratories, which encourage every young person "to give the best of oneself, to set a goal to reach, to not get discouraged, to collaborate as a group".

Redemption of the poor

How could it be otherwise, Francis also made reference to the poor and the weak, who are a great example of not giving up in life, but also in the spiritual life: "The poor and the weak are a great example of not giving up in life, but also in the spiritual life.a man does not die when he is defeated: he dies when he gives up, when he stops fighting.". And the poor are masters at this: in spite of the evidence of indifference, "continue to fight to defend their lives".

All this because it is not enough to dream of success, you have to work hard. The poor thirst for redemption: "offer them a book, a pair of shoes, a ball and they are capable of unthinkable actions.". True hunger, in fact, Pope Francis concludes, "is a real hunger".is the most formidable motivation for the heart: it is showing the world that you are worthy, it is taking the only chance you are given and playing for it.".

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