Pope: Sports Medical Experts Called to aid in Spiritual and Moral Perfection

Pontiff Receives Participants of World Congress on Sports Medicine

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By Pietro Gennarini

CASTEL GANDOLFO, SEPT. 27, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Pope Benedict XVI today received in audience the participants of the XXXII World Congress on Sports Medicine at the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo.

After welcoming the participants, the Holy Father spoke of the potential worldwide implications of sports medicine, and it’s potential to inspire people all around the globe. "I understand that you who have come for the Congress hail from one hundred and seventeen countries and five continents, your diversity being an important sign of the ubiquity of athletics across cultures, regions and circumstances," said Pope Benedict XVI.

"You as medical experts recognize that the starting point of all your work is the individual athlete whom you serve…each sportsman and woman is more than a mere competitor."

The pontiff also underlined that "sometimes, however, success, fame, medals and the pursuit of money become the primary, or even sole, motive for those involved," saying that this has even led to the "abuse and misuse of the means at the disposal of modern medicine."

The Holy Father reminded that each person is called to spiritual and moral perfection prior to any human achievement, such as sports. He also recalled the words of St. Paul, who said spiritual and athletic excellence are closely related, and exhorted believers to "train themselves" in spiritual life, exercising self-control in all things.

Urging the participants of the congress to consider, above all, the dignity of those assisted, the Pope stressed that "in this way, you will be agents not only of physical healing and athletic excellence, but also of moral, spiritual and cultural regeneration."

Pope Benedict XVI concluded his speech giving the participants his best wishes. "May your professionalism, good counsel and friendship benefit all those whom you are called to serve. With these thoughts, I invoke upon you and those whom you serve God’s abundant blessings!"