Pope Deplores Violence in World of Sports

Sends Condolences for Police Officer Killed at Soccer Match

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 5, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI urged that violence not be allowed to stain the sports world, in the wake of rioting at a soccer game that left a police officer dead.



The Pope's appeal was expressed in a telegram of sympathy sent by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, to Archbishop Salvatore Gristina of Catania, Sicily, after the death of Filippo Raciti, 38.

The police officer, who was a husband and a father of two, died amid rioting by fans at the end of the Italian A-Series Catania-Palermo soccer match last Friday.

The Holy Father's message was read at the police inspector's funeral service today, which was presided over by Archbishop Gristina.

The Pontiff expressed "his spiritual closeness to the wife and children of the victim, as well as to the injured and the police who, with other law enforcement forces, work to safeguard the security of citizens."

Benedict XVI reiterated "his firm condemnation of all forms of violence that disfigure the world of soccer," and exhorted "its protagonists to promote respect for legality with greater determination, favoring loyalty, solidarity and healthy competitiveness."

"In this hope," the telegram stated, "His Holiness raises fervent prayers for the soul of the faithful servant of the state while invoking heavenly consolation upon the relatives and colleagues and all those stricken by such a dramatic loss."

The telegram also mentioned that the Pope "sends a comforting apostolic blessing, which may also be extended to those present at the funeral rites."