Since my childhood I have been a sports fan. I started with football (soccer) as all Brazilians do. But soon I discovered the value of many other sports in my home country—tennis, volleyball, athletics, basketball, swimming, and surfing. Today I find that I like to practice and watch virtually all sports.
I always follow the main sports competitions worldwide. I love the games themselves, but I seek to have a vision that goes a little further. I don’t think there’s a sport in which I don’t see the scope of human abilities. They all have this internal logic that must be understood. All require talent associated with training, technique related to tactical work. All include human effort that cooperates with the talent received from God.
During my youth, with the increase in my commitment to the Catholic faith, I discovered how Christian life and sport have a very deep relationship. From my theological and pedagogical studies, I sensed an area that I needed to explore. I began to search for writings from the Catholic Church on sport. So, I read many speeches from the recent Supreme Pontiffs dealing with the subject. Each was written for special occasions, mostly for official audiences in which the popes received athletes or sports teams as guests. They were short texts, but they contained great theological depth and an integral understanding of sport.
I started to use much of that content in my pastoral and teaching activities and saw that they produced many good fruits. The analogies between Christian life and sport are extraordinarily rich and have the capability to help many people on their path of faith, especially the younger ones. So, I decided to start writing articles about the subject, and the reception was positive. I found that many people want to read about sport and Christian life. Soon, those brief articles turned into a little book where I tried to sketch some clues to a theology of sport.
In 2016, I had the opportunity to participate in congresses in Spain and Italy where I met many other people who were in this field studying the relationship between sport and christian faith. I was overjoyed to be able to collaborate on the revision of the text of the first ever document from the Catholic Church on the subject: “Giving the best of yourself: a Document on the Christian perspective on sport and the human person,” published by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Family and Life. This document has been translated into many languages and distributed worldwide.
The human person is a unity of body, soul, and spirit. Everything is related and complements other areas. In my opinion, the Christian vision of the human being encourages us to use sport to reach human fullness, overcoming all kinds of anthropological and philosophical reductionisms. Moreover, I believe that sport, with everything it develops in the person, is also a path that can help Christians to live their own faith better. Sport and Christianity can and should continue to enlighten each other.
I believe that sport is a school of human virtues and that it can also become a school of Christian virtues. From my educational experience and many years of participation in Catholic youth ministry, I find that to continue deepening in this relationship is a great need. It is a path that is still taking its first steps, but we can see that the horizon is very promising. It is essential to continue hosting congresses and meetings that provide the exchange of information and experiences. The Second Global Congress on Sport and Christianity held in Michigan in 2019 was an excellent occasion to keep growing this important field of action and study, binding faith and sport.