ROME (AP) – Pope Francis is hoping a charity soccer match involving the Swiss Guard, Vatican staff, priests, players with Down syndrome, expatriates and members of the Roma community will tackle a significant “kick” for discrimination .
The match will take place in Rome on Sunday and it will be refereeed by Lazio team captain Ciro Immobil. The purpose of the encounter on the pitch is to raise funds for the Rome Diocese’s initiative to promote the inclusion of the Roma and others involved in the Vatican’s description as the “most fragile” members of society.
“This is a team that has no barriers and that embodies normal mediocrity,” Francis told participants of the game at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace on Saturday.
Francis described the challenges facing the Roma community in much of his speech. In September, during a pilgrimage to Slovakia, the pontiff visited the Roma community.
“Dear Roma friends, I know very well your history, your reality, your fears and your hopes,” Francis told the participants of the soccer match, which he said, “shows integration toward peaceful coexistence.” Is.”
The Pope noted that Croatia has sports initiatives aimed at including Roma, which he praised for facilitating “mutual acquaintance and friendship”. He also hoped that the dream of children, who “have the right to grow up together”, is not broken by discriminatory barriers.
Francis extended his best wishes to the sports participants.
Francis said, “It doesn’t matter who scores the most goals, because the deciding goal together is what you will achieve, the goal that will make hope win out and give the boycott a kick.”
The players will include three expatriates who arrived in Italy after living in a refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece and are now being assisted by a Roman Catholic charity. The Pope visited Lesbos in 2016 and brought back a dozen Syrian Muslims on his return flight to Rome. The pontiff will return to Lesbos during a visit early next month.