Rome warming up for Jubilee of Athletes
During the Jubilee of Athletes later this month, Pope John Paul II will be the first pontiff in history to attend a soccer match.
The 28-29 October event will highlight values including loyalty, courage, and respect for opponents. Thousands of athletes from around the world will participate.
A focal point will be the athletes' rendering of homage to the Holy Father in the Olympic Stadium. There will be a 100 metre dash, as well as a soccer match that will pit the Italian national team against a representation of foreign players who play in Italy's first division.
Archbishop Crescenzio Sepe, secretary of the Jubilee Central Committee, said that this is an event "that the Pope has looked forward to intensely, to embrace the world of sports and celebrate the Jubilee of Athletes.
"It is also an event to emphasise the importance of sport as an instrument of social cohesion. Moreover, the Church has always followed sports activities, especially because of the values they express, such as honesty, fraternity, joy and sacrifice."
The calendar of the Italian Soccer League has been changed for the occasion, with the 1st Division will switch its competition from 29 October to 1 November.
During the exhibition, the Pope will be given the "Sports Manifesto for the Third Millennium," the document with which the international sports movement assumes the commitment to respect fundamental ethical values of sports activity.
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