Papal Message Against Racism Is Read at Soccer Match

Encourages "Civilization of Love Through Patient Dialogue"

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 2, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI launched an appeal against racial discrimination, in a message read at the start of a soccer match between Italy and Germany.



The message was read Wednesday night at Artemio Franchi Stadium in Florence by Auxiliary Bishop Claudio Maniago.

The soccer federations of both countries dedicated the event to combat and avoid racist expressions in stadiums.

In the brief message, sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Pope expressed "his appreciation for the initiatives organized in this context against racial discrimination, promoted to reinforce awareness of the educational function of sports, at the service of solidarity and peace."

The message said that the Holy Father "encourages the common effort to promote the civilization of love through patient and respectful reciprocal dialogue in all realms of society."

It was the first message Benedict XVI sent to players and spectators of a soccer match.

The match served as preparation for both teams for the World Cup tournament, which will be held June 9-July 9 in Germany. Italy won the match 4-1.

Here is the text of the papal message read by Bishop Maniago.

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The Supreme Pontiff addresses a cordial greeting to the authorities, organizers, leaders, athletes and those who have gathered in the Franchi Stadium of Florence on the occasion of the Italy-Germany friendly soccer match, and expresses his appreciation for the initiatives organized in this context against racial discrimination, promoted to reinforce awareness of the educational function of sports, at the service of solidarity and peace.

His Holiness encourages the common effort to promote the civilization of love through patient and respectful reciprocal dialogue in all realms of society. Invoking divine assistance on all these intentions and projects, with pleasure he sends his apostolic blessing to those present in this significant event.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano
Secretary of State