Pope says he hopes greatest sports event in world brings global peace

Performers welcomed members of the Brazilian Olympic team during a ceremony at the Athletes' Village in London July 23. During his July 22 Angelus at the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his blessings to all those taking part in the games, which were to begin July 27. (CNS photo/Neil Hall, Reuters)

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI expressed his hope that the Summer Olympics would help bring peace and reconciliation throughout the world.

The Olympic Games, held this year in London, are “the greatest sports event in the world,” drawing athletes from the myriad nations of the world to one city, the pope told visitors gathered to pray the Angelus with him July 22 at the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo.

The games have “important symbolic value,” and for that reason the Catholic Church looks to them “with special fondness and attention,” he said.

“I send greetings to the organizers, athletes and spectators alike, and pray that, in the spirit of the Olympic truce, the good will generated by this international sporting event may bear fruit, promoting peace and reconciliation throughout the world,” he said.

The Olympic truce tradition, originating in 8th-century B.C. Greece, asked that all wars and conflict be suspended before and during the games as a way make sure participants could travel to and from the venue safely.

The pope said he prayed the Olympics would be “a true experience of brotherhood between all peoples on earth.”

He also gave his blessings to all those taking part in the games, which begin July 27.

The pontiff also spoke of global peace in this month's earlier announcement of the 2013 World Day of Peace theme: Blessed are the peacemakers.

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