Pope Francis: Rugby metaphor for life

2013-11-22 20:46
Pope Francis salutes migrants during his visit to the island of Lampedusa, Italy. (File, L'Osservatore Romano/ AP)

Pope Francis salutes migrants during his visit to the island of Lampedusa, Italy. (File, L'Osservatore Romano/ AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Vatican City - Football-mad Pope Francis is also a fan of the rugby scrum: the pontiff joked with Italian and Argentine players and met the heads of FIFA and the IOC on Friday as the Vatican builds new ties with the sporting world.

After the players presented a grinning pontiff with their jerseys, he said the game was a metaphor for life.

"Playing rugby is hard, it's no walk in the park! And I think that makes it useful to toughen the spirit, the will," he said, praising its "loyalty and respect".

"There are the famous 'scrums', which are sometimes hard to watch! And then there are the individual manoeuvres, races towards the goal," he added.

Rugby "makes us think of life, because our whole life we are heading for a goal. We need to run together, pass the ball from hand to hand, until we get to it".

Since his election in March, the sprightly 76-year-old - a former basketball player in his youth - has pushed for sports to take a more prominent place in the Church, championing team games as good for mind, body and soul and calling for more "spiritual athletes".

The Argentine pontiff - a keen support of the San Lorenzo football club from his native Buenos Aires - is still sticking to his favourite sport however and also on Friday he met with FIFA boss Sepp Blatter.

"It was really a meeting between two sportsmen - or at least two football fans," Blatter said afterwards.

The Vatican is increasing its ties with the world of sport in what one official defined as "new ways of bringing the Gospel" and it is also seeking to draw parallels between sporting values and spiritual ones.

The Vatican now has its own cricket team and last month it even organised a 100-metre sprint along the main avenue leading to St Peter's Square.

Sport is fundamental

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the Vatican's "culture minister", has pointed to parallels between sports and faith.

"Sport is fundamental for humanity. Sport and spirituality are kin," he said at the launch of the cricket team.

In a symbol of sport's peacemaking potential, an olive tree presented to the pope by the Italian and Argentine teams will be planted at the Rome stadium where the teams will play Saturday, before being moved to the Vatican gardens.

Blatter, who presented the pontiff with a special Latin edition of the association's magazine, said they spoke about "striving for a better world."

"The pope calls for football to help do something for the poor," he said, adding that the pontiff was particularly keen FIFA do something to help those living in the slums of Rio de Janeiro during the Football World Cup in 2014.

Blatter said he promised to "do what we can."

FIFA has already begun tackling the cultural gap between fans in the stands and the often musty world of the Church: translators for the Latin issue had to invent suitable equivalents for "penalty", "corner kick" and "centre-forward."

Learning that "the Latin game of football is 'pendiludum'" may help up the Vatican's game.

The City's players are largely drawn from the Swiss Guard but three international matches in 11 years have ended in one draw and two defeats.

Read more on:    roman catholic church  |  pope francis  |  vatican city

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Hilarious mortal kombat elevator prank!

How would you react if you had to share a lift with this guy?



This is how the Top Gear presenters spend their £55 million!
Thirty and still single? There’s hope!
SA’s Playboy Playmate of the year in action!
12 lies everyone accepts as fact

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

Good Morning, Mr Mandela by Zelda la Grange

Good Morning, Mr Mandela tells the extraordinary story of how a young woman had her life, beliefs, prejudices and everything she once believed in utterly transformed by the greatest man of her time. Now R221. Pre-order now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


It may be hard to stay cool, calm and collected. Your emotions can get quite heated in the moment. You may benefit from finding a...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.