(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday met with members of S.S. Lazio, the Rome sports club which is most famous for the Serie A football team of the same name.
The sports club was founded in 1900 to provide access to sports activates to all levels of society, since other clubs at the time were aimed at the wealthy.
“I encourage you, therefore, to continue to be welcoming, to value different talents,” Pope Francis. May your sports club always be an open house, where you are able to experience brotherhood and harmony among people.”
Pope Francis then spoke about their Latin motto, taken from Sallust: "Concordia res parvae crescunt, discordia maximae dilabuntur."
“It would be interesting to ask if any of you know the translation... But maybe it’s better not!” Pope Francis joked.
“It is not really difficult: Concord will make small things flourish, discord will destroy great things,” explained the Holy Father. “Your long history has confirmed this ancient judgment: born as a small athletics club, ‘Lazio’ over the years has been enriched by diverse associated activities and has been organized in numerous sports sections.”
He praised the club for giving equal status to all sports, and how the members, athletes, and supporters of all ages are joined together by the “Olympic spirit” and the “desire for mutual solidarity.”
“In Italy - and it is also like this in my country, Argentina – you risk speaking always about football, and overlook other sports,” said Pope Francis. “Rather, each sporting discipline has its own value, not only physical or social, but also moral, since it offers the possibility to people - especially to children and young people - to grow in balance, self-control, sacrifice and loyalty to the others.”
The Pope reminded them the human person exists in unity of “spirit and body,” and encouraged them to cultivate both of these aspects in their sporting activities, not forgetting their religious and spiritual dimension.
“What sometimes happens is that a boy or a girl, for training or competition, misses Mass, or catechism,” Pope Francis said.
“This is not a good sign, it means that the person has lost the balance in his life. Just as well, we must not neglect study, friendships, or service to the poor,” he continued.
“Thanks be to God we have some beautiful examples of men and women athletes, even great champions, who never stopped living the faith and serving others,” Pope Francis said. “In fact, true sport encourages the building of a world with more fraternity and solidarity, contributing to the alleviation of injustice and of human and social distress.”
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