Vatican clergy to meet Church of England in cricket match
Opponents often claim they are each have God on their side, and these words will perhaps never ring truer than when the Vatican cricket team meet with the Church of England's side this September.
A team of Catholic clergy from Rome are to go head to head with the Anglican XI on September 19, following several warm-up matches during which the Vatican team will face opponents such as the Royal Household, comprised of the Queen's servants and guards, at Windsor Castle.
It is all part of St Peter's Cricket Club's 'Tour of Light', which will be led by Captain Father Tony Currer, a British priest and official in the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity who once played for Durham City. Other members of the team will be seminarians, priests and deacons, all of whom currently live in Italy's capital.
The Twenty20 match is set to take place at Kent County Cricket Club's Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, just one mile from Canterbury Cathedral. According to Lambeth Palace, the game "follows a challenge laid down by [St Peter's] honourary president Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi to Archbishop Justin Welby".
Entry will be free for the public, though donations to the joint Anglo-Catholic anti-trafficking charity the Global Freedom Network, endorsed by both Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby, will be welcomed.
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravisi has praised the sporting initiative, noting the importance of ecumenical action and unity within the Church. "In our culture of massive movement of peoples, sport challenges us to examine not just how hospitable we are, as individual athletes, but also how similar we are, for as Jean Giraudoux affirms, 'sport is the real esperanto of the peoples'," he said.
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"Look at the great success of the World Cup in Brazil! We do well to recall this in our pastoral work!"
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, added that he is "delighted and intrigued" by the match, which "must surely be an historic first!" while Archbishop Welby insisted that whoever wins, he is "greatly looking forward" to the game.
"I also pray that the match will draw attention to the very serious problem of modern slavery and human trafficking, which our two churches are working closely together to combat through the work of the Global Freedom Network," he said.
The C of E XI has not yet been decided, though it is expected to be made up of theological college students. Trials are due to take place at Lord's on July 7.