(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the members of the European Olympic Committees on Saturday in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. The Committee members are in Rome this week for the 42nd European Olympic Committees General Assembly. Pope Francis spoke to the committee members about the role of sport in forming the whole human person for life. “As Olympic officials,” he said, “you are called to foster the educational function of sport.” The Holy Father went on to say, “We are all aware of the great need to form athletes animated by rectitude, moral rigor and a keen sense of responsibility.”
Pope Francis also spoke of the dangers of reducing sport to mere business and unbridled competition. “Whenever sport is considered only according to economic parameters or to achieve victory at all costs,” he said, “we run the risk of reducing the athletes to mere merchandise from which to profit.” Pope Francis added that when this happens, athletes themselves are put through a mechanism that overwhelms them. “They lose the true meaning of their activities, the joy of playing that attracted them [when they were young], and that has led them to make so many sacrifices and become champions.” Pope Francis concluded saying that sport is harmony, but if the excessive pursuit of money and success prevails, this harmony is broken.
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