“Just another guy with a blog.  No big whoop.”

May 27, 2010

The Catholic Church in South Africa wants you to watch this video

And so do I. “Church on the Ball” is a beautifully produced glimpse of the work the Catholic Church has been doing in South Africa, “particularly in the area of HIV-AIDS and human trafficking, against the backdrop of the 2010 Football Worldcup.” Very impressive and encouraging!

From the organization's website:

Within a few weeks, 32 national soccer squads will be arriving to prepare for this titanic tournament which has been expected with growing excitement for so long. During a period of 43 days, an estimated 2.7 million local and foreign spectators will view 64 matches live as these are played in 9 cities around the country. Another 20 million fans will be watching the games on big screens at fan parks across the country and up to 3 billion viewers around the world will tune in to the event. And we, as Catholics, need to make our presence felt too, and use the opportunity to be lights of the world and salt of the earth, leaven in the dough. Think of what images Jesus would have utilized to connect with fans through the use of memorable parables based on soccer and sports today!

Let us try to raise public attention on:

• the ethical questions in sports;
• the educational attributes of sports;
• the global responsibility (fair trade, human rights, development cooperation, etc.);
• human rights; integration; combating of racism…

• the promotion of Sunday as Lord’s day
• the prevention of crime and violence…
• Of great concern are the prostitution and human trafficking issues.

South Africa is introducing visa-free travel across southern Africa for the 2010 WC with the purpose of promoting tourism and freer business travel and trade in the region at this time. Relaxing of visa requirements for travel in the SADC region could contribute to potential risks of increased migration that could include trafficking. So let us be vigilant. But let us especially remain positive, and keep the focus on the ideal opportunity the FWC presents to the church to minister through sports.

And so, apart from celebrating World Cup Sunday on the 13th June, explore the opportunity to run:

• parish festivals with sports and football-related events.
• “MiniWorld Cups” with football teams – why not a “Bishop’s cup” in each diocese.
• promote churches as places of silence, rest and prayer as an alternative to the bustle.
• help to distribute the World Cup Catholic prayer pocket booklet as widely as possible.
• and please advertise in your parish newsletters/notice boards and even through a large banner on the roadside, the website

The Catholic motto of the 2006 World Cup in Germany was - “A time to make friends”. Let us encourage Catholics to give the visitors from foreign countries a warm welcome and prove themselves to be considerate hosts. Let us break barriers and build bridges! As for the many nationals from foreign countries residing in SA, they can be a great resource in breaking the language barriers, and assisting in the accommodation and the arranging of “parties” for their fellow-countrymen.

Expected outcomes:

• the Church will hopefully be perceived as a reliable partner who has a special competence and a specific mission.
• press, radio and television will provide some exposure to activities organised by the Church.
• make people aware of the rich common ground between the Church and sports.
• demonstrate that both sports and the Church can be joyful experiences. Many find it difficult to share on the faith and religious level. Sports creates a common bond between people which can lead them to share at faith level.
• grow our communication structures.

Our ultimate goal!? Peace and Justice on earth and happiness in Heaven!

Ke Nako*!