Sport and faith need each other to form the mind as well as the body and the spirit, that is to form the whole being as a person, said Msgr. Marian Florczyk, Delegate of the Polish Bishops’ Conference for Sports, on the first day of the Synod.
We are publishing full text of his intervention:
Most Holy Father,
Most Eminent and Excellent Synod Fathers,
Dear brothers and sisters,
In the context of the entire Church and the whole of social life, we have come to reflect on our young people.
The nation of a country is characterized by sports disciplines widely practiced there.
The Church’s necessary and very important presence in the world of sport is dealt with in this Synod’s Instrumentum Laboris (points 39, 40 and 164). At the Synod in 2012, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi spoke of the various “crossroads that the Church cannot avoid.” One of these “crossroads” is, precisely, sports.
Why do young people practice sports? There are many reasons and motivations, including the desire for success, fame, and money, or beauty and physical ability. Some, thanks to their hard work, become champions, get up on the podium to receive the prize for their victory. Here, the question arises: Does the young person, on this path of great renunciation and enormous effort, recognize that his/her life is present in the Church? Is there a competent assistant, a friend, a man of the Church who knows how to direct the athlete’s effort towards the soul, towards moral values, towards Christ, and make him/her understand that man is an exceptional unity of the spirit and of the body? Most athletes recognize that their career, success and fame soon pass, and, so, they wonder about their future. We, men of the Church, are usually with them only as fans, we cheer them on like everyone else, i.e., in front of the TV or at the stadium.
During recent Olympic games, only a few national teams were accompanied by spiritual guides, although the organizers provided suitable places for prayer and spiritual meetings in the Olympic village. This pastoral care of athletes should be included in the life of the Church of every nation and every diocese.
Sport and faith need each other to form the mind as well as the body and the spirit, that is to form the whole being as a person.
The Gospel and the Church’s teaching enrich and form athletes inwardly. Those who want to become true champions must look towards Christ, the Master of life, the Master of humanity; they must look towards the One who is the way leading to the final victory. We find strong affirmations regarding this in St. Paul’s letters (see 1 Cor 9:2427; 2 Tim 4:68).
Today, the dignity of the sports person, but also the principles of fair play, are subjected to a variety of dangers. Therefore, the sports world needs to recognize the true values and moral norms. Now, here precisely, there is room for Christ, for the faith, and for the assistant who, as a witness of Jesus, can help to make the sports world much more beautiful. Thank you
Msgr. Marian Florczyk, Delegate of the Polish Bishops’ Conference for Sports