Catholic Church Launches ‘Holy Games’ in Hopes to Evangelize Young Olympic Sports Fans

The Roman Catholic Church is planning to engage people to participate in religious activities during the 2024 Paris Olympics. As reported by The Conversation, eight Catholic dioceses based in Paris have organized what is called the “Holy Games,” a project between the Archdiocese of Paris and the French Bishops Conference. 

Those participating in the Holy Games will be involved in three programs, each lasting a week: two during the Olympics and the third during the Paralympics.

Missionaries, Catholics, and other spectators will gather at the Holy Games to watch the Olympics and Paralympics, celebrate Mass, and engage in fellowship through various cultural activities.

According to La Croix International, a French Catholic newspaper, the Catholic Church in France views the Olympics as an opportunity to evangelize using the influence of sport.

“Sports encourage a sense of brotherhood and allow us to gently proclaim the faith,” says Frédéric Deren, a permanent deacon who is the delegate for the Versailles diocese. “Each parish is invited to make this event shine.”

“We want to show the face of a Church that is welcoming and energetic,” Roger Villegas, a parish priest representing Nanterre Diocese, adds. “It’s about fostering a team spirit, reminding everyone that no one is alone, and promoting a sense of solidarity.”

Meanwhile, over 70 parishes of the French Catholic Church near Olympic venues will welcome visitors and offer celebrations in multiple languages.

Throughout history, the Catholic Church has stressed that sports can be a means to teach Christian values. In 1891, Pope Leo XIII wrote a letter to clergy advocating for labor rights, stressing that laborers “ought to have leisure and rest.” Since then, subsequent popes have followed suit in engaging with sports organizations and faith, including Pope Pius X, Pope Pius XII,  Pope John Paul II, and Pope Francis. 

Currently, Pope Francis views sports as a means of building peace. During the video address before the opening of the 2014 World Cup, Francis stressed, “Sport is a school of peace; it teaches us to build peace.”

The Paris Olympics will be held from July 26 to August 11, 2024, and the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games from August 28 to September 8. Over 10,000 athletes from 205 nations and approximately 40,000 volunteers are expected to participate in both events.

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Pierre Crom/Stringer

Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for CrosswalkHeadlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.

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