Farrell: Sport can promote togetherness, culture of encounter
By Christopher Wells
In his opening address for an International Summit on sport, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the prefect for the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, said that “sport, when lived well and presented in a correct manner, especially to young people, can make a very valuable contribution to the good of the human person.”
Rooted in the good of persons
The Church’s interest in the world of sport, he said, is rooted in its care for the good of persons – which refers not just to material or economic well-being, but in “the moral good of the individual and of humanity.” Taking his cue from Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli tutti, the Cardinal explained that seeking the good of all people means “helping individuals and societies to mature in the moral values that foster integral human development.”
Cardinal Farrell then spoke about the Church’s expectations for sport, saying it must help foster the idea of being one human family, promoting closeness in order to restore hope and bring about renewal in a world that has lost sight of the “other.” Once again citing Pope Francis, the cardinal said the world is suffering from global indifference, which comes from a sense of disillusionment and leads to cynicism.
The Church’s interest in sport, and the reason for the symposium, he said, is that “The Church feels driven by the desire to rekindle hope in the hearts of people, especially the most disadvantaged, and wishes to promote togetherness and a culture of encounter in every field.” Precisely because it is so important in the lives of so many, the Cardinal explained, sport “can be a privileged domain to foster togetherness and the culture of encounter.”
Cardinal Farrell said that this is the basis for the three key concepts of the Summit: “tailored,” made to measure for each person; “accessible,” making sport available to everyone, especially the poor and excluded; and “cohesive,” fostering togetherness and encounter between professional and recreational sport.
Keeping momentum alive
Recognizing that sport has always fostered solidarity and closeness to the weakest, and the commitment of sportsmen and -women to these ideals, the Cardinal said, “We want to keep this momentum alive, and to work in hope together with all of you to give sport back its soul where this has been lost.”
Cardinal Farrell concluded his address with the invitation to all those participating in the Summit “not to remain prisoners of cynicism and to trust in our common commitment to a more fraternal and united humanity.”
The two-day International Summit is taking place at the Vatican September 29-30, and will conclude with a speech by Pope Francis and the signing of the Declaration on Sport on Friday afternoon.