VATICAN CITY (CNS) — After thousands of runners completed the first ever “multireligious” half-marathon in Rome, Pope Francis praised the initiative, which was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture.
“I greet participants in the ‘Via Pacis’ athletic race, which passed places of worship of the different religious faiths present in Rome,” the pope said Sept. 17. “I hope that this cultural and athletic initiative fosters dialogue, coexistence and peace,” he told gathered for the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square, which was near the end of the 13-mile (21 km) course.
Some 2,000 people took part in the half-marathon and almost 4,000 people signed up for the 5k “fun run,” according to Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of pontifical council and head of the office’s section on sport.
Priests, nuns, the differently abled, refugees and parents pushing kids in strollers were just some of those who took part in the events. Some 200 members of Rome’s grand mosque participated, as well as members of the Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Bahai communities, Msgr. Sanchez told SIR, the Italian bishops’ news agency.
About 20 Vatican employees, dubbed “the pope’s marathoners,” also took part, with one member of the Swiss Guard completing the half-marathon with an impressive time of 1 hour, 20 minutes, he said.
The race started and ended near St. Peter’s Square, where Pope Francis delivered his Sunday Angelus prayer and address at noon.
In his talk, the pope spoke about the day’s Gospel reading (Mt 18:21-35) in which Jesus tells Peter that Christians must always, sincerely forgive whoever wrongs them, even if “doing so twice already seems like too much for us.”
In his infinite love and mercy, God always waits — even for the smallest sign of remorse — and forgives his children, the pope said.
Because God forgives even the “crippling debt” of original sin with baptism, all Christians should be able to forgive all the lesser slights, offenses and sins against them, he said.
“Whoever has experienced the joy, peace and inner freedom that come with being forgiven can open themselves to the possibility of forgiving in turn,” he said.
“The heavenly father — our father — is full, full of love and wants to offer it to us,” the pope said, “but he can’t if we close our hearts to love for others.”
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103