Statement by H.E. Archbishop Celestino Migliore
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See
session of the United Nations General Assembly
Agenda item 45: Sport for peace and
New York, 31
The role of
sports within and among societies can be traced to some of the earliest
civilizations. However, never before has the practice of sport become as firmly
established as today. Sport has become a mass phenomenon capable of engaging
huge crowds on a grand scale, breaking geographic, racial, social, economic,
political and cultural barriers.
Next year, the
global community will once again come together to celebrate the ancient
tradition of the Olympic Games, in its twenty-ninth modern edition in Beijing.
As the world prepares for such an important event, we are reminded of the role
that sport can play in the life of every individual and society.
Fortius. These three Latin words, coined a century ago by Father Henri Martin
Dideon to describe his students’ achievements in sports, were adopted as the
Olympic motto, because the aspiration to be “swifter, higher, stronger” aptly
describes the goals of great athletes all over the world.
in a healthy and harmonious way is a means to bring together peoples of
different cultures and traditions in a respectful and peaceful manner. Through
greater use of sport as dialogue and encounter, the Greek tradition of Olympic
Truce can give way to genuine and long-lasting peace.
In fact, dialogue and encounter through sport holds great potential in the area
of peacebuilding and conflict prevention. While the rule of law and justice
remain the foundation of durable peace, sport provides the tool for warring
factions to come together for a common purpose. These moments of unity may be
brief and at times fleeting, nonetheless they are an important reminder that in
human experience there are many more things that bind us together than those
that tear us apart. In this regard, my delegation notes with appreciation the
work of the UN Office of Sport for Development and Peace in fostering this
dialogue in conflict-ridden places, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo
and Liberia. We look forward to seeing a greater consolidation of its activity.
fomenting dialogue across cultures and fostering peace, sport can also serve as
a means for greater personal and social development. Through sport, the person
develops one’s creativity and talent, overcomes personal challenges, acquires a
sense of belonging and solidarity, learns discipline and a sense of sacrifice.
These values redound to the benefit of the greater community and help us
understand the value of the common good over personal glory. Thus, we encourage
sports figures to be models for youth and to help foster the positive values of
has seen an increasing number of cases of abuse and deviance in the practice of
sport, which lead to a sports culture devoid of human values.
world of sport continues to have authentic role models and generous protagonists
who strive to reclaim the ideal of sport as a real school of humanity,
camaraderie, solidarity and excellence. A renewed and widely shared emphasis on
a human-centred approach to sport would help ensure that the important virtues
learned through sports become one of the means for developing and fostering
healthy and responsible human interactions.
The Holy See’s
Office for Church and Sports was created with this ideal of sport in mind. It
works with schools, youth groups, amateur sports associations and athletic
professionals in order to promote a healthy approach to sport and help young
people understand the positive impact sport values can have on both the local
and global community.
The Olympic Creed
reminds us that the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the
struggle. May the 2008 Olympic Games contribute to the common struggle to make
the world a better place for one and all, through the promotion of the
inseparable and mutually re-enforcing values of peace, development and full
respect for basic human rights.
Thank you, Mr