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Superstars of Soccer to Take Part in Inter-religious Peace Game

Papa Francisco futbol – en

© YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP

Aleteia - published on 07/28/14

Inspired by Pope Francis, the game in Rome will promote unity, brotherhood and charities helping vunerable children.

On September 1 in Rome, the Interreligious Peace Game will be held with Pope Francis’ support.

The best players in the world will be on the field for brotherhood between nations in an international event inspired by Pope Francis to benefit Scholas Occurrentes and the PUPI Foundation, a non-profit organization.

The game will take place on Monday, September 1st, 2014 at 20:45 at the Olimpico Stadium in Rome. Players and coaches worldwide will enliven an event of great symbolic and social value. The competition will be broadcast live in Italy on the RAI 1 television channel and live on Radio 1.

Pope Francis’ inspiration

Born out of an inspiration by His Holiness Pope Francis, the initiative will support organizations that work every day to provide direct aid to vulnerable populations in Europe, South America, and elsewhere. Scholas Occurrentes, a public educational institution promoted by Pope Francis, uses technology, art, and sports to promote social integration and the “culture of encounter.” It is headquartered at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican. The nonprofit PUPI Foundation, created by Javier and Paula Zanetti over a decade ago, promotes and supports long-distance adoption programs and supports early childhood interventions for health and educational development, as well as programs to strengthen families.

The event, sponsored by the Rome city board, by CONI, the FIGC (Italian Football Federation), and the Lega Serie A (A-Series League), aims to promote brotherhood and sharing through the medium of sports, and soccer in particular. Religious belief—of whatever faith or denomination—becomes an element of unity and an opportunity to enrich daily life, as in sports.

The soccer superstars

Lionel Messi, Gianluigi Buffon, Zinedine Zidane, Javier Zanetti, Roberto Baggio, Andrea Pirlo, Yuto Nagatomo, and Samuel Eto’o are some of the athletes who will speak on behalf of different religions. They will be gathered for the first time in Rome to celebrate the encounter between sporting excellence and brotherhood as a symbolic gesture of peace in the world.

"I’m very proud to contribute to the organization of the Interreligious Peace Game," Javier Zanetti, said, adding, "It was in April 2013 when Pope Francis, during our meeting, said he wanted to share the idea of creating a moment of brotherhood and unity among different religions. Since then, we have worked hard to make the event a night for great soccer and fundraising, and above all, a celebration for people of different backgrounds and an opportunity for shared reflection, in addition to the immediate goal of financing ‘An Alternative Life’ project.”

PUPI Foundation Project

"An Alternative Life" is aimed at children ages 3 to 13 who are living in disadvantaged socioeconomic conditions. Since 2001, the Foundation, based in Buenos Aires (Argentina), has offered its young guests a network of care and support: homework assistance, health support, social services, and leisure and formative activities.

Scholas Occurrentes Project

Scholas seeks to improve education and achieve integration into the community, giving special attention to those with fewer resources, involving all stakeholders, and linking schools and education networks around the world through educational, athletic, and artistic projects.

The Argentine pedagogue and theologian José María del Corral, world director of Scholas, said of this rare gathering, "This is the culmination of the World Cup in which all those who want a world without war or hunger can win. This is a game we can all play together: Jews, Muslims, and Christians, all for unity in diversity."

Scholas director Enrique Palmeyro agreed, adding, "The Interreligious Peace Game is not only a sporting event or another solidarity competition. It is a unique opportunity for us to join Pope Francis in his tireless work for peace. The world needs our effort and commitment."

Sources: Aleteia

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