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Pope underlines value of sport in spiritual formation

Pope John Paul II has told a group of athletes that sport should be a "school of human formation" inspired by authentic values.

The group, which included referees from the Italian Soccer Championship, was at the Castel Galdolfo summer residence for the Holy Father's regular Wednesday audience.

Among the referees was Pierluigi Collina (pictured left), considered by some sports publications the best in the world. He was the referee at the 2002 World Cup final between Brazil and Germany.

He told the group: "Your presence allows me to express once again the hope that sports will always be a gymnasium of authentic human formation, inspired by ethical and spiritual values," the Pope said.

Meanwhile a half marathon has been organised for 19 October to celebrate the beatification of Mother Teresa.

Vidimus Dominum reports that 2500 athletes from all over Europe run the 21 km on the streets of the Albanian capital Tirana. The event has been organised by the Italian Sport Centre, which is promoting it alongside the Catholic Action Movement.

Sara Simeoni, winner of several Olympic medals for polevaulting, said she knew Mother Teresa in person and saw here as a "true marathon runner". She said the sport symbolises the idea of running and walking together, without distincton of race and religion.

Vidimus Dominum

Pierluigi Collina Official Site
Sara Simeoni (Encyclopedia Britannica)
Pope receives Europe's champion soccer team (18/9/02)

19 Sep 2003