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Pope prompts NZ Marist Rugby to review Sunday games

The New Zealand Marist Rugby Federation is reported to be reviewing the future of its participation in Sunday rugby following concerns about secularisation Pope John Paul II voiced to the country's bishops earlier this week.

The Holy Father said: "New Zealand enjoys a proud heritage, steeped in rich cultural diversity, yet like many other countries is today suffering the effects of unrestrained secularism/"

The NZCity website says the Federation has indicated it will "take heed" of the Pope's warnings.

The Pope, who played international rugby for Poland, told New Zealand bishops we spend too much time playing sports and not enough time going to church.

Rugby Development Officer Tony Meachen stressed that the Federation's adherence to Church requirements is no longer mandatory.

But he suggested that the "Church and God are playing as great a role as ever" amongst the young players.

He said players kneel down and thank God before a game and if they score a try.

Catholics constitute around 13% of the population in New Zealand, which is roughly half the Catholic proportion of the Australian population.

Marist Rugby listening to the Pope (NZCity 14/9/04)
Pope Tells of Need to Counter "Unrestrained Secularism" (Zenit 13/9/04)

Marist Rugby
NZ Association of Rationalists and Humanists Tell the Pope to Get Over It
Drop in Mass Attendance Dims Light of Christian Witness, Says Pope (Zenit 13/9/04)
Pope's Address to Bishops of New Zealand (Zenit 13/9/04)
Greeting of President of New Zealand's Episcopate to John Paul II (Zenit 13/9/04)
Pope: Too much fun and games in NZ (NZ Herald 15/9/04)
New Zealand Politician Proposes Amendment to Bill Mandating Parents be Informed if Child Seeks Abortion ( 13/9/04)
Audiences (Vatican Information Service 14/9/04)
Pope directs US to collaborate, NZ to pray (Online Catholics 15/9/04)

15 Sep 2004