By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Help society and the church overcome all forms of discrimination and exclusion, Pope Francis told a delegation of Special Olympics athletes.
He encouraged the athletes to keep helping each other “discover your potential and to love life and appreciate it with all of its limits and, above all, beautiful aspects.”
The pope’s comments came during an audience June 19 in the apostolic palace with Special Olympics directors, coaches, family members and athletes, who will be representing Italy at the games in Los Angeles July 25-Aug. 2.
The world of sports can look to the church to help guide it in fulfilling its true meaning as an educational, physical and recreational activity that fosters people’s dignity, he said.
The pope praised the athletes’ drive to “get in the game,” and expressed his hope that participation help them become more active members of society and the church, thereby helping “society and the church overcome every form of discrimination and exclusion.”
He asked them to remain faithful to sports’ true ideals and never let themselves “become contaminated by the false sports culture, (which emphasizes) economic success, victory at all costs and individualism.”
“It’s necessary instead to safeguard and defend sports as an experience of human values; competition — yes, but with sportsmanship and solidarity. Dignity for everyone always,” he said.
He told the athletes to “have fun and make friends” at the games and have a “joyful, enthusiastic, and peaceful experience.”