Pope references Ukraine war ahead of the European Aquatics Championships

The European Aquatics Championships, Photo: Vatican News

 ROME – During an audience with a delegation from the European Swimming League on Monday morning, Pope Francis referenced the Ukrainian war ahead of next month’s European Championships.

The European Aquatics Championships will be held from 11 Aug. to 21 Aug. in Rome. In his speech the pontiff sent his greetings and included the message addressed to all athletes participating in the Championships.

 “Dear Athletes! I send you my greetings from Rome, where, a month from now, you will take part in the European Aquatics Championships. This pleases me greatly, because every great sporting event is a special moment when young people from different countries can encounter and interact with one another, and that is a wonderful sign of hope for the future of our human family,” said pope during the audience where he underlined Rome’s suitability as a host venue due to its historic openness to the world.

 The pontiff also highlighted the uniting value of international sport events in the time of Russian invasion of Ukraine. “I am happy that our city once more hosts this impressive sporting event. These days, we need sport more than ever – real sports! – as a counterbalance to the conflict and hostility weighing down on our world and, sadly, also our continent of Europe,” the pope said.

 “I am sure that you, like myself, are saddened because the war in Ukraine casts its shadow on this celebration. At the same time, I would hope that this will make us all the more committed to showing our desire for a world of peace, a world without wars, without hatred between peoples and without nuclear threats,” he finished by saying.