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6/21/2017

(Photo courtesy of L'Osservatore Romano)

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GREETING TO HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
ON THE OCCASION OF THE PRIVATE AUDIENCE
GRANTED TO MEMBERS AND DIRECTORS OF
THE PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME
JUNE 21, 2017

Holy Father, the members and directors of America’s Pro Football Hall of Fame express their deep gratitude for the privilege of this audience. 310 of the greatest athletes in the United States have been inducted into the Hall of Fame — an association dedicated to the values of commitment, integrity, courage, respect and excellence.

It has been said that American football is “a metaphor for the American experience.” If this is so, then Vince Lombardi, one of America’s greatest coaches and a Knight of Columbus, best captured this spirit when he said of one of his championship teams, “They didn’t do it for individual glory. They did it because they loved one another.” He went on to say, “After all the cheers have died down and the stadium is empty…and after you are back in the quiet of your room…the enduring thing that is left is the dedication to doing with our lives the very best we can to make the world a better place in which to live.”

Holy Father we are grateful to you for your message to the 2017 Super Bowl, reminding the world that sport should always “be a sign of peace, friendship and solidarity for the world.”

And we are grateful to you for reminding all athletes of their responsibility as role models towards children and youth and of the need for solidarity with those “at the edges of society” — especially those who are challenged by poverty or disability.

Thank you Holy Father for your leadership in reminding the world of the moral and spiritual dimension of sport — something that has been called the “heart power” of the athlete.

On this occasion we ask for your blessing on all athletes — whether they are on or off the field of competition — that they may aspire to live by the values of commitment, integrity, courage, respect and excellence; and that all of us may live “our lives the very best we can to make the world a better place in which to live.”

— Carl A. Anderson
Supreme Knight, Knights of Columbus