A 100 meter track was set-up along the street in Rome leading to St. Peter’s Square recently, according to an article by Catholic News Agency.
More than 5,000 participants, including Olympic athletes, ran along the track while other athletes spoke to the crowd about the importance of sports in their lives.
This witness to the Church’s positive view of sports, when they are properly directed, preceded a Vatican conference held by the Pontifical Council for Culture on sports.
The Vatican conference was designed to bring sports into the "heart of the Church," an effort that is mirrored by colleges recommended in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College. For example, Benedictine College recently held an on-campus Rosary procession led by members of the football team. And Mount St. Mary’s University has successfully infused its Division I athletic program with its strong Catholic identity.
Professional athletes, heads of Catholic sporting associations and bishops gathered at the Vatican conference to discuss the “relationship between faith and athletics,”according to CNA. The conference also included discussion about the ways in which sports and the Church influence each other for the better.
Monsignor Melchor Sanchez de Toca, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, notes that sports should receive attention in Catholic schools. He stated:
We wanted to bring sports into the heart of the Church… to remember that sports is important…for a sound and full Christian life.
…[T]he first goal is to call the attention of everyone towards the importance of sports in Christian life – for parishes, schools,Catholic schools, seminaries, houses of education or training for clergy and religious people.
…[W]hat we can do for the world of sports – what values do they need? What can the Church bring into this world? And vice versa: how to bring the sports into the daily Christian life..
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