Pope Francis delivered a video message to the organisers, players and fans participating in the 2014 World Cup tournament in Brazil.
Delivered in Portuguese, the message expresses the Holy Father’s hope that, in addition to a celebration of sport, this World Cup can be transformed into a festival of solidarity between peoples, Radio Vatican has reported.
The message goes on to say sport is not only a form of entertainment, but also a tool to communicate the values that promote the good of the human person and help to build a more peaceful and fraternal coexistence.
The Holy Father’s message also discusses the importance of sport in moral education, since the sporting spirit is one that teaches the need for discipline, effort and sacrifice to succeed and achieve excellence – becoming a constant reminder of the sacrifices necessary to grow in the virtues that build the character of a person.
Football, the message continues to say, can and should be a school for the formation of a "culture of encounter", leading to harmony and peace among peoples – teaching as it does the value of fair play and authentic team effort – values, the message concludes, without which all of society is damaged.
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Pope Francis sends message to World Cup opening