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How Pius XII urged gymnasts to take care of their mental health

SIMONE BILES

Kunihiko Miura | The Yomiuri Shimbun | AFP

Philip Kosloski - published on 07/30/21

In 1952 Pope Pius XII wrote a special letter to gymnasts, urging them to take care of their mental and spiritual health, above anything else.

Pope Pius XII addressed a variety of athletes and sports leaders on November 8, 1952. In the address, he gives details on the proper balance of athletic competitions, stressing the need to not neglect the health of mind, body, or soul.

So put your joy in the correct practice of gymnastics and sports. Bring their beneficial current among the people so that physical and mental health may flourish more and more and the bodies invigorated at the service of the spirit; above all things finally do not forget, in the midst of the thrilling and intoxicating gymnastic-sporting activity, what is most valuable in life: the soul, the conscience, and, at the supreme apex, God.

Pius XII believed the key to correct performance of gymnastics and sports is to be fueled by God and his divine commandments. The commandments have a way of “protecting” us and our health.

The divine commandments also protect one’s own life and that of others, one’s own health and that of others, which it is not permissible to recklessly expose to serious danger with gymnastics and sports.

All of this is very relevant, especially with the withdrawal of Catholic athlete, Simone Biles, who wanted to preserve her mental health.

Sports can be an inspiration to virtue, but it must first be focused on what truly matters in life.

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