Speech about the capacity for sports and athletic endeavours to unite persons and peoples in the common pursuit of peaceful competitive excellence (B XVI):
“Just as sport is more than just competition, each sportsman and woman is more than a mere competitor: they are possessed of a moral and spiritual capacity which ought to be enriched and deepened by sports and sports medicine. Sometimes, however, success, fame, medals and the pursuit of money become the primary, or even sole, motive for those involved. It has even happened from time to time that winning at all costs has replaced the true spirit of sport and has led to the abuse and misuse of the means at the disposal of modern medicine”.
This, the Holy Father noted continuing his English-language address, is one of the questions being discussed at the congress. “This”, he said, “is surely because you too appreciate that those whom you care for are unique and gifted individuals, regardless of athletic capabilities, and that they are called to moral and spiritual perfection prior to the call to any physical achievement. Indeed, St. Paul notes in his First Letter to the Corinthians that spiritual and athletic excellence are closely related, and he exhorts believers to train themselves in the spiritual life”.
“As the Lord Himself took human flesh and became man, so each human person is called to reflect perfectly the image and likeness of God. I therefore pray for you and for those whom your work benefits, that your efforts will lead to an ever more profound appreciation of the beauty, the mystery and the potential of each human person, athletic or otherwise, able-bodied or physically challenged”.
The International Federation of Sports Medicine (FIMS) is, for the first time in its history, holding its world congress in Rome. For the occasion participants were received in audience by the Pope this morning, at the Apostolic Palace in Castelgandolfo.
This, the thirty-second FIMS world congress, is being attended by people from 117 countries on the five continents, “a significant indication”, the Holy Father said, “of the capacity for sports and athletic endeavours to unite persons and peoples in the common pursuit of peaceful competitive excellence”.