Vatican launches cricket club, challenges Anglicans

Vatican City, Oct 23 (AFP) :  The Vatican served up tea and cucumber sandwiches today as it launched its own cricket club, and challenged the Church of England to a match.

With the coat of arms of St Peter's as its symbol, the club will give priests and seminarians -- and eventually nuns -- a new outlet for their sporting passions, said officials at the Pontifical Council for Culture.

"This represents the council's desire to go to the peripheries of the world that Pope Francis has spoken of," Monsignor Melchor Sanchez, who is the honorary president of St Peter's Cricket Club, told reporters at the launch.

The club colours are the yellow-and-white of the Vatican flag.

Sanchez said cricket could be a new way of engaging with other denominations and other religions, saying he hoped the Church of England would form its own team and the two could square off on Lord's cricket ground in London.

The game would be in September next year -- the month chosen because it is a time of holiday for seminarians in Rome. Other games are planned with Hindu and Muslim teams of seminarians who would come over especially from India.

"I never imagined cricket was so popular in Rome," said Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, who is informally known as the Vatican's "culture minister".

"Cricket is alien to our culture but it has become part of our culture as an expression of inter-culturality," he said, explaining that a wave of immigration in Italy had brought many young aficionados of the sport to the country.Theodore Mascarenhas, an Indian priest and a mean off-spin bowler, is the chairman of the cricket club. Looking at all the priests, he quipped: "I don't think we're lacking for spiritual direction or guidance"."The team will be strong enough to beat anyone in the world. I think cricket is another thing that would be part of that openness," he said.

While Pope Francis is known as an avid fan of the San Lorenzo football club in his native Argentina, Mascarenhas said he was "a very open man".

A woman, Philippa Hitchen, who works for Vatican Radio has been brought on the board in the hope that "eventually we will have nuns playing so the gentlemen's game can also be a ladies' game," Father Mascarenhas said.

Preparations for the cricket club began around a year ago thanks in large part to the enthusiasm of Australia's ambassador to the Holy See, John McCarthy, who said the initiative was an example of "sporting diplomacy"."This is a milestone for sport, for cricket, for the Holy See and for the seminarians," he said, adding that he estimated there were between 250 and 350 potential players from around the world studying in clerical colleges in Rome.St Peter's Cricket Club will play on the grounds of Capannelle Cricket Club outside Rome and will practice in Trastevere, near the city centre.

The cricket club means business. One of its members is Brother KM Joseph, who promoted young sporting talent in schools in India helping famous Indian players like Mohammed Azharuddin, VVS Laxman, Noel David and Yuvraj Singh.


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Comment on this article

  • A. S. Mathew, U.S.A.

    Wed, Oct 23 2013

    Dr. E. Stanly Jones, a close friend of Mahatma Gandhiji and Pundit Nehru once asked Gandhiji, how we can preach the gospel in India. Gandhiji answered.

    1. Live more like JESUS. 2. Practice your religion without adulterating toning it down. 3. Emphasize love and make it your working force. 4. Studying the non-Christian religions. It is high time that the man-made denominational walls are broken and we all need to interact in any way possible through love and playing the game is a great door opened in that direction.

    DisAgree Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • R.Bhandarkar, M'lore

    Wed, Oct 23 2013

    Eventually have Nuns playing cricket?
    Hmmm... Means, eventually, we will have extra fine legs, extra covers on the field ...but no extra silly points....!!

    DisAgree Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • RICHARD LOBO, Shirva/Bangalore

    Wed, Oct 23 2013

    It is a good move by Vatican indeed. It is also true that this game is indulging with wealth which is contradicting with the Popes messages these days.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Ramakrishna. K. , Mangalore

    Wed, Oct 23 2013

    I Hope Rev. Pastor. Sidharth Mallya ( Son of Vijay Mallya) is not sponsoring this Cricket match. Pastor Siddarth is a Crazy Cricket Fan.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • R.Bhandarkar, M'lore

    Wed, Oct 23 2013

    At the outset I think they know who the ultimate 'UMPIRE' is....!!
    Forget the Main, Square-Leg and Third Umpire..........

    DisAgree [3] Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • Allen, Mangalore

    Wed, Oct 23 2013

    Shreeshant could be hired as umpire!

    DisAgree Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • Mark, Udyavara

    Wed, Oct 23 2013

    This is a real good news!!
    New dimension to worship and prayer to reach God!!!

    Good lead for others to follow... Days to come, we will have "god's hand" in this game too...

    Good luck to the team.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [10] Reply Report Abuse

  • VIVEK, Udupi

    Wed, Oct 23 2013

    On the contrary this might create more animosity between the followers if not all when the team loses as they are the leaders of the faith.
    It's better to stick to the faith matters and keep cricket or any sports as personal pass time for the religious.

    DisAgree [5] Agree [15] Reply Report Abuse

  • A.prabhu, Mangalore

    Wed, Oct 23 2013

    Hope there is lot of hope and

    DisAgree Agree [13] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sampath , Mlore/ Blore

    Wed, Oct 23 2013

    Vaticans Vs Anglicans..... A good move by the church of Rome to words the unification of the church built at the rock ( St Peter)....
    We pray that this move by the church may lead towards the proposed purpose to be served....
    GOD bless us all....

    DisAgree [3] Agree [11] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sachidanand Shetty, Mundkur/Dubai

    Wed, Oct 23 2013

    As long as they play any game with true spirit everyone will welcome it. And I am sure they will never indulge in any other business like our BCCI is doing, i.e. all BCCI Directors and Managers play all kinds of game except cricket.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [21] Reply Report Abuse

  • oswald & Teresa Pais, Bendur parish

    Wed, Oct 23 2013

    It's really surprising news that Vatican will have a Cricket team.My best wishes to them & pray that through this sport the msg of our faith will advance. God bless of them who initiated this sport.

    DisAgree [8] Agree [16] Reply Report Abuse

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