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Pope Francis on sports for all: If it does not educate or build relationships, it is a business

Pope Francis entered the Paul VI Audience Hall with the help of his cane. There, he received participants from the international conference, "Sport for All." It is an initiative meant to raise awareness among senior sports officials worldwide about the social responsibility sports have, the need for them to be open to all and the importance of removing barriers for people with disabilities.

Pope Francis said that to go faster, higher and be stronger (the Olympic motto), it is essential to play as a team. He also said that sports are a hallmark of any Christian institution, especially those that work with young people.

The Church is close to sports because it believes that the game and sporting activity are places of encounter between people and of formation in values and fraternity. That is why sports are a trademark of the Church, especially in schools, oratories or youth centers.

The Pope insisted that sports must be formative, that is, they must be able to educate and to create relationships between people. If not, they cannot be considered sports but simply an economic activity. 

Outside this logic, they run the risk of falling into the "machinery" of business, of profit, of a consumerist spectacle, which creates "characters.''

He also asked all the authorities present to do their best to make sports a home with open doors. 

May a family atmosphere never be lost in this house, and may we find this culture even in the world of sports brothers, sisters and friends. I am close to you in this mission, and the Church supports you in your educational and social commitment.

Finally, Pope Francis personally greeted those present, among whom were athletes with disabilities and Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee.