November 16, 2010

VATICAN CITY,  (VIS) - At midday today the Pope received a group of Italian ski instructors accompanied by Franco Frattini, minister for Foreign Affairs whom he thanked for his efforts to ensure that many Catholics, injured in recent attacks in Iraq, have been brought to Italy to receive medical attention.

On the subject of sport the Holy Father affirmed that, “if practiced passionately and ethically, apart from fomenting a healthy spirit of competition, it becomes a school in which to learn and develop human and Christian values. … Through sporting activity people gain a better understanding that the body cannot be considered as an object but that, though corporeity, it expresses itself and comes into relation with others. Thus, a balance between the physical and the spiritual dimensions ensures we do not idolise the body but respect it; not making it an instrument to be improved at all costs, perhaps even using illicit means”.

Skiing in the mountains, “contemplating creation, man recognises the greatness of God, the ultimate source of his own being and of the universe”, said the Pope. “It must not be forgotten that the relationship with creation represents an important element in the development of human identity, and not even man’s sin eliminated his duty to be the custodian of the world. Sporting activity can also be considered and lived as part of this responsibility. Scientific and technological progress give man the possibility to intervene and manipulate nature, but the ever-present risk is that of wishing to replace the Creator and reduce creation almost to the status of a product to be used and consumed.

“What”, the Holy Father added, “is the right attitude to take? Certainly, it is that of a feeling of profound gratitude and recognition, but also of responsibility to conserve and cultivate the work of God. Sporting activity helps to achieve this goal, by influencing lifestyle which is thus oriented towards balance, self-discipline and respect. For you in particular, the contact with nature is a reason to cultivate a profound love towards God’s creation”.

Benedict XVI expressed the view that the role of ski instructors “is important both for healthy sports training and for education in environmental respect. It is, then, a task not to be carried out in isolation but in understanding with families, especially when your pupils are children, and in collaboration with schools and other educational institutions. Another important aspect is your witness as lay faithful who, in the context of sporting activities, can give a correct focus to certain fundamental moments for the life of the faith, especially the sanctification of Sunday, the day of the Lord”.


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