Vatican Invites Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow To Faith and Sports Conference; no word yet on whether Benedict will Tebow

There’s no better way to make my unheralded blog debut than to lead off with a story that’s about ten days old. Probably shouldn’t be a habit going forward. But I think it’s interesting, and is perhaps a good way to kick off the first in what will hopefully be a long series of posts concerning the link between faith and sports.

The Pontifical Council for Culture is hosting an international conference which hopes to address the issues surrounding, faith, values, and the role of sports in forming (or not forming) moral behavior.

The fact that the Vatican wishes to engage sports – an element of society whose importance is often overlooked by liberal arts college students like myself – isn’t all that surprising. But what is surprising is the inclusion of two high-profile, self-avowed American evangelical athletes: Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow.

One of the things I’ve come to appreciate is the Vatican’s willingness to level criticisms at the free market, a practice with which most mainline Protestant churches seem hesitant to engage. One of the more interesting quotes comes from Msgr. Melcor Sanchez de Toca Alameda, who says that sports have “become a commodity” and “reduced people to merchandise”.

I’d give the Pontifical Council for Culture ten points for ecumenism if I thought that was the reason why they selected Lin and Tebow (not that it was the goal to begin with). Certainly it has to do with the high-profile nature of both their athletic careers and their expressions of faith (e.g., The Tebow Rule and Jeremy Lin’s Twitter page). I do wonder how many Catholic athletes will be present at this conference – or, for that matter, whether Lin and Tebow will accept the Vatican’s invitation. Or, for that matter, whether they could find any prominent American Catholic athletes. Mostly, I really just want to see Benedict XVI do a Tebow, even if I’m a thousand percent sure that will never happen.

(source: Catholic News Service)

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