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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Pope Francis receives Sporting Association of Lazio, Italy: True Sports help overcome Situations of Injustice

Vatican City, 7 May 2015 (VIS) – Seven thousand players, managers, members, and supporters of the Sporting Association of Lazio (Societa Sportiva Lazio), one of the Italian capital city's two football teams, were welcomed this afternoon in the Paul VI Audience Hall to meet with the Pope. The Association was created 15 years ago when a group of youths decided to create a club open to the youth of the city that would perpetuate the moral and ethical values of the sport. “At that time,” Pope Francis said, “organized sports were a privilege of the rich. The intention of the founding group was to make it accessible at all levels and in all social categories. I encourage you, therefore, to continue being welcoming, to continue to value various talents. May your sporting association always be an open house where fraternity and harmony without discrimination can be found.”

The club's motto is a phrase from the Roman historian and politician Sallust: “Concordia parvae res crescunt, discordia maximae dilabuntur” (small things thrive with harmony; discord brings the greatest things to ruin). The Pope asserted that the sporting association's long history has confirmed that truth, enriched by different associated activities, structured in various sporting sections, and united by the Olympic spirit and mutual solidarity. “One of [your] merits is that of having worked to bring equal status to all sports. In Italy, as in my country, Argentina, too, there is the risk of speaking always about football and neglecting other sports. Instead, every sports discipline has its value, not only physical or social, but also moral since it offers the possibility to people, especially to children and the young, to develop balance, self-control, sacrifice, and loyalty towards others. I want to emphasize this last one: loyalty. Loyalty towards others because betrayal is increasing a bit everywhere...Loyalty! Sports allows it to grow.”

The Bible teaches us,” the Pope concluded, “that the human person is a unity: spirit and body. I therefore encourage you to always cultivate, together with sporting activities … the religious and spiritual dimension. … We must not neglect studies, friendship, or the service of the poor either. We can't overlook these things to do just one thing. ...Thanks be to God we have wonderful examples of men and women athletes, even great champions, who never stopped living faithfully and serving others. In fact, true sports allows us to build a more fraternal and supportive world, helping overcome situations of injustice and of human and social discomfort.”

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