The Monday Edition

The Evangelical Pope | A Journey of Genuine Conversion

July 08, 2024

Living Words from John Paul II

Edited by Abraham A. van Kempen


Published Sunday, July 7, 2024

The Evangelical Pope | A Journey of Genuine Conversion

St John Paul II with an aspiring young soccer player in 1980. Photo: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.


Each week we let Saint Pope John Paul II share meaningful signposts to spark socio-economic resolves through justice and righteousness combined with mercy and compassion; in short, love.


               I will bow down toward your holy temple and praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness, for you have so exalted your solemn decree that it surpasses your fame.


               __ Psalm 138: 2 (New International Version)


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The Vatican – 8 May 2000 | I warmly welcome each of you from the 51 member countries of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and have gathered in Rome for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.


Almost all the European nations are represented at today's meeting. In particular, the presence of the Federations from the East, which joined your Union after the fall of the Berlin Wall, shows even more the potential of football to inspire peace and brotherhood.


This potential, which your federations embody, can help us expand horizons, overcome every barrier, and create systematic communication among the various peoples in order to make an effective contribution to building European unity.


I am confident, dear friends who represent the European Federations, that you share my hopes so that football will become more and more a place of tranquillity and that every match will achieve what sports must be: an overall development of the body, a sound spirit of competition, an education in the values of life, joie de vivre, fun and recreation.


May football, like every sport, become increasingly the expression of the importance of being over-having, freeing itself—as your representative opportunely remarked just now—from everything that prevents it from being a cheerful occasion of solidarity and brotherhood. Football, when played with the right spirit, can bring us together, foster mutual respect, and create sincere encounters among the men and women of our world.


In this perspective, football structures are called to be a field of authentic humanity, where young people are encouraged to learn the great values of life and to spread everywhere the great virtues that are the basis of a worthy human society, such as tolerance, respect for human dignity, peace, and brotherhood.


This implies a journey of genuine conversion, that is, the renouncement of the worldly mentality that wounds and degrades human dignity; it also means total trust and courageous commitment to the liberating way of thinking and acting taught by the Gospel. How can we not see the Jubilee as an invitation to make sports one more opportunity for the authentic promotion of man's greatness and dignity?


Excerpted from:


Address of the Holy Father John Paul II, To the Members of The European Football Associations, Monday, 8 May 2000



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