Soccer Can Be "Witness of Fraternity," Says John Paul II

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 9, 2002 ( As the World Cup championship continued, John Paul II appealed to those who engage in soccer and other sports to be "witnesses of fraternity," especially by promoting initiatives in favor of children´s rights.

The Holy Father made his appeal today when he greeted hundreds of boys and youths taking part in the street championship organized by the Italian Soccer Federation.

The matches were played in 30 playing fields improvised in the Via della Conciliazione, which leads into St. Peter´s Square, to "sensitize public opinion about children´s rights," as the Pontiff said when he greeted the youths at midday, after praying the Angelus.

"Always be witnesses of fraternity in sports and in all environments," John Paul II exhorted the young players.

During his midday meeting with pilgrims, John Paul II also greeted members of the Italian Federation of All-Purpose Vehicles who, parked on a side of St. Peter´s Square, responded enthusiastically to the Pope´s words by sounding their horns.