They’re Being Good Sports

This is not the cricket team from Vatican City.
This is not the cricket team from Vatican City.
During the history of history the Catholic Church has accomplished some tremendous things. It has also been responsible for some of the most vile atrocities know to man or woman or beast or what have you. I have friends who can’t get past the Spanish Inquisition. I can understand that. However, having been raised Catholic my world view is a tad more nuanced. Or so I hope. I have covered how porn led to people learning to read the bible and helped literacy in general. It’s a simple fact. It doesn’t make me anti-this or pro-that. What simply is cannot be denied. It doesn’t help, either, when people in power within the church, such as Chicago’s very own Francis Cardinal George, make dogmatic statements like “It has always been this way” when “no it hasn’t” and “who cares” are both correct responses. Still, softly at first and now, with Pope Francis at the helm, more decisively, the Church has been making forays into humanity that don’t feel as though they were scripted in the Middle Ages. And they’re doing so in a way that every beer swilling sports fan can appreciate.

In 2010 the Vatican quietly got Vatican City certified to compete in the Olympics. In 2012 they fielded a small, ragtag group – no sorry, that’s Battlestar Galactica – they fielded competitors. They showed up in London and did well for first timers, even coming home with a silver medal in synchronized swimming.

The Vatican Olympic team 2012 participated in the fields of football, synchronized swimming, athletics, canoeing and boxing. During the London Olympic Games of 2012, the Vatican Olympic team managed to win one medal: a silver medal in synchronizes swimming.

During the London Olympic Games, the Vatican Olympic team was represented by some of the following athletes: Synchronized swimming was represented by Paolo Moretti and Ahmed al-Abdulla; marathon was represented by Cardinal Enrico Domeniconi; boxing (light flyweight) was represented by Matteo Albani; canoeing was represented by Federico de Luigi.

The Vatican City national football team surprised many by beating Portugal 2-1 in the opening match. However, the Portuguese coach said that the defeated resulted from his players’ fear of scoring against the “God’s football team” which could be seen as desecration. Unfortunately, the Vatican City national football did not manage to win against San Marino and Sao Tome and Principe; which were in the same group. The Vatican national football team finished last in that group with three points.

Speaking of the Vatican’s football team, that’s soccer for those of us on the right side of the pond, they are painfully bad but need not be. Currently the only people who can play on the Vatican’s official team are members of the Swiss Guard. They are the Catholic equivalent of the Secret Service here. Just like our guys and gals train day and night to take a bullet for the president and/or his family, the Swiss Guard trains the same amount to protect the pope.

A job made especially difficult now that there is a pope who truly believes his life or death truly is God’s will so he just traipses out into crowds at random. That’s fun for the faithful but I bet guard members are drinking heavily now.

That’s a joke kids.

Nevertheless, according to the Vatican’s media department, that may change.

The soccer thing, not the drinking thing.

The Vatican national football team is fully supported by the Vatican. During the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, the pope used to visit the team when training and encourage the players stating the importance of sports and playing as a representative of their state.

As a way of improving the Vatican national football squad, there have been suggestions to take some players from the Catholic seminaries from different parts of the world. This suggestion has not yet been acted upon. If accepted, this will be one way of enabling a teem where the players have some time to train and play with other teams.

I think this is a good idea. While I doubt that young seminarians would compete with Man U, at least teams comprised of players like that would stand a shot at competing.

Also, tiny trivia, the Vatican is one of only nine fully recognized sovereign states whose national team is not a FIFA member. The others are Monaco, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Marshall Islands (they have no national football team), Palau and the United Kingdom.

there’s no UK team due to the fact that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all field their own teams.

Now you know.

Anyway, about 500 years ago the Catholic Church got into a near war with the Anglican Church, because nothing shows the love of Jesus like a good war.

Well, Pope Francis of “Who am I to judge” fame, thinks that it might be a good idea to revisit that particular conflict. But, because this pope is very different than any pope I can remember, Philip Pullella is reporting that he wants to revisit on a cricket pitch.

The Vatican officially declared its intention to defeat the Church of England on Tuesday – not in a theological re-match nearly 500 years after they split, but on the cricket pitch.

The challenge was launched at the baptism of the St. Peter’s Cricket Club.

Vatican officials said the league will be composed of teams of priests and seminarians from Catholic colleges and seminaries in Rome.

The seminaries and religious colleges will play each other in a “Twenty20” tournament, where games last about three hours.

After that, the best players will form a Vatican team, which will be called the “Vatican XI,” and challenge the Church of England to form its own team of Anglican priests and seminarians to play in London at Lord’s, the home of cricket.

“The Vatican team will be able to play anybody in the world. We hope to see a Vatican team playing at Lord’s,” said Alfonso Jayarajah, a Sri Lankan who was the first captain of the Italian national team and a board member of St. Peter’s Cricket Club.

“We hope to have ecumenical dialogue through cricket and play a Church of England side by September,” said Father Theodore Mascarenhas, an Indian official at the Vatican’s Council for Culture, who once played as an off-spin bowler.

The idea for a Catholic cricket club was the brainchild of John McCarthy, Australia’s ambassador to the Vatican. He wanted to see something similar to the Clericus Cup, a soccer tournament among the religious colleges and seminaries of Rome.

He enlisted the support of other diplomats and prelates from what he called “other cricket countries” – including Britain, South Africa and Pakistan – and found “anonymous sponsors from the cricketing world”.

In response to a suggestion that cricketing terms and field positions might be translated into Latin or Italian, McCarthy was firm: “English is the language of cricket and will remain the language of cricket”.

The Vatican team will wear the official colors of the tiny city-state – yellow and white – and their jackets will have the seal of the papacy, two crossed keys.

By all accounts Pope Francis is not much of a cricket man. He still supports the San Lorenzo football club of his native Buenos Aires.

But Mascarenhas, the Indian priest who is the chairman of the St. Peter’s Cricket Club said: “I am sure that cricket will be another thing that he accepts as part of his openness.”

How nice. If the Pope can accept gays I guess he can tolerate cricket players.

If that sentiment doesn’t prove the new pope has his priorities right nothing does.

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