Papal Message in Support of Olympic Truce

On the Occasion of Games in Athens

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2004 (Zenit.org).- In an unusual gesture, John Paul II has given his written support to the appeal for a truce to world conflicts during the Olympic Games in Athens this Aug. 13-28.



Christos Botzios, Greece's ambassador to the Holy See, told ZENIT that the Holy Father sent a written message in support of the appeal for a "lasting truce."

According to the message, the Pope hopes that the Olympics will take place without violence, and that they will serve to promote "the spirit of peace" and of a "healthy competition," as intended by the founders of the Olympic Games in classical Greece.

For its part, the U.N. General Assembly approved unanimously a resolution to call for an Olympic truce.

The Greek diplomat said that at the end of his message the Pope expresses the wish that the Olympic Games will be a "joyful event" for every human being and reflect a spirit of fraternity worldwide.

"This gesture has been very much appreciated in Greece," Ambassador Botzios said, because it is "very unusual" for a Pope to support an appeal of this sort.

"The Pope wants to stress, precisely, that the Games are an occasion to demonstrate that men are brothers. Therefore, it is a message that has spiritual weight," he said.

At the same time, "the Pope goes beyond the concept of truce as observed in the tradition of classical Greece during the Olympic Games, which lasted 40 days before and 40 days after them," Botzios explained.

"In classical history, the truce was only violated on one occasion by the Spartans, who were one of the powers of the time, but they were punished and were not allowed to take part in subsequent games," he said. "The Pope goes further, appealing for a truce that will last after the Games."