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Vatican Continues Outreach to Sports World for New Evangelization

By James Penrice
December 21st, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In his Christmas message of December 20, Fr. Kevin Lixey, LC offered updates on some of the recent projects of the Church and Sport Section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.Blessed John Paul II established the Church and Sport Section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in 2004 to promote evangelization through the world of sport.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI (Catholic Online) - Blessed John Paul II established the Church and Sport Section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in 2004 to promote evangelization through the world of sport. Fr. Kevin Lixey, LC has been the head of the section since its inception. In his Christmas message of December 20, Fr. Lixey offered updates on some of the office's recent projects.

Regional outreach

After three successful international seminars on faith and sport, the Church and Sport Section is beginning to focus on a more regional outreach. One of their goals is to foster a greater awareness and sensitivity on the part of the local Church to the pastoral opportunities afforded by sporting activities, especially those which are conducted by schools, parish centers, and other associations affiliated with the Catholic Church.

As an example, Fr. Lixey visited Brazil in September at the invitation of His Excellency, Don Orani Joao Tempesta, Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, for a week-long "Sport and Faith" forum. Archbishop Tempesta seeks to bolster the Church's presence in the world of sport in a more proactive way, especially in light of the events that will take place in Rio de Janeiro over the next few years: World Youth Day in 2013, the World Cup Finals in 2014, and the Summer Olympics in 2016.

The speakers at this conference included local government officials, diocesan clergy, representatives from Catholic education, Brazil's minister for sport, the Church's coordinator for pastoral outreach at the 2012 London Olympics, and representatives from "Alianca dos Atletas de Jesus Eucaristico," an apostolate that reaches out to professional athletes.

The Church and Sport Section is also raising greater awareness of the pastoral opportunities related to sport in the United States during meetings with bishops from America, as they make their ad limina visits to Rome. "Perhaps the time is ripe to start reflecting about the possibility of a sort of 'North American Sports Congress' or seminar," said Fr. Lixey, "that would pool together the many positive sports initiatives that are being carried forth by the laity in North America, in order to stimulate greater pastoral reflection as well as synergy among these various apostolates to the world of sport."

Book reviews

Fr. Lixey also announced that the web pages of the Church and Sport Section will soon dedicate space for Church and sport related book reviews, and for the sharing of articles of interest in the English language. One such book is a work he recently co-authored with Edio Constantini: "Sport & St. Paul: A Course for Champions."

Blessed John Paul II on sport

To benefit those seeking to reflect upon and to quote from the substantial speeches of Blessed John Paul II on the pastoral significance of sport, the Church and Sport section is preparing an improved PDF document that will also be published so as to become a credible source for a bibliography. This will be an enhanced version of a PDF file that is already available.

After a banner year in 2011 the Church and Sport Section seems headed for more success in 2012, encouraged by the words of Pope Benedict XVI: "In our time when an urgent need to educate the new generations is evident, it is therefore necessary for the Church to continue to support sports for youth, making the most of their positive aspects. and to help people welcome the many valuable opportunities that sports can offer in the pastoral care of youth."

For more information, visit the Church and Sport Section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity at http://www.laici.va/content/laici/en/sezioni/chiesasport.html

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James Penrice is a contributor to Catholic Online, and a correspondent for Catholic Athletes for Christ

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