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  • Sport & Christianity. A Sign of the Times in the Light of Faith ed. by Kevin Lixey, L.C.; Christoph Hübenthal; Dietmar Mieth; and Norbert Müller
  • Dries Vanysacker
Sport & Christianity. A Sign of the Times in the Light of Faith. Edited by Kevin Lixey, L.C.; Christoph Hübenthal; Dietmar Mieth; and Norbert Müller. (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press. 2012. Pp. xx, 257. $24.95 paperback. ISBN 978-0-8132-1993-6.) Orig. publ. as Sport und Christentum: Eine anthropologische, theologische und pastorale Herausforderung (Ostfildern, 2008)

This volume contains the English translation of the papers from the European seminar “Sport and Christianity: Anthropological, Theological, and Pastoral Challenges” that was held on March 1–4, 2007, in Mainz, Germany. It starts with an introduction by Bishop Joseph Clemens on the operations of the Church and Sport Section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, whose task is to coordinate the Church’s worldwide initiatives in this area according to the aims established by the Holy See.

The book is divided into three main sections. The first part (“Anthropological Aspects,” pp. 13–78) offers an anthropological investigation of some fundamental considerations of the human person and his or her final destiny relating to sporting activity in a general way. The second part (“Theological Aspects,” pp. 79–185) is a theological approach that considers sporting activity from the perspective of the Church’s magisterium and from current theological reflection. Alois Koch focuses on the meaning of the biblical and patristic metaphors in ecclesial literature that are drawn from the realm of sport. Kevin Lixey investigates the concern of Pope Pius XII in the aftermath of World War II about the role of sport in the lives of Italian Catholic youth. The pope encouraged the sporting activities that were carried out under the leadership of the Church through its Catholic youth and sports associations. The author suggests that Pius XII had a broad vision of pastoral care that considered youth sport as an opportunity for developing certain natural and Christian virtues. Thus, Pius XII highlighted sport’s educational dimension. In his ethical evaluation of sport, he primarily stressed natural law, the Decalogue, and the salvific dimension of human existence. Carlo Mazza focuses on sport in the writings and speeches of Pope John Paul II, as one who spoke about sport from the perspective of an insider (who practiced it). This personal experience explains the enthusiasm for the phenomenology of sport that overflowed into his speeches. John Paul II always placed his analysis of sport within the framework of the modern development of culture. He therefore used two levels of criteria: the criteria of truth of creation, and the criteria of the salvation and redemption of man. By reuniting these concepts, he created a socio-ethical concept of the human person that is understood in a complex and holistic way. Josef Clemens reflects on the theme of sport by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI. He begins with an interview that Ratzinger gave on Bavarian radio before the Football World Cup in [End Page 597] 1978. This interview is followed by a study of Benedict XVI’s papal addresses on sport throughout the first five years of his pontificate. Dietmar Mieth concludes this part by stressing the necessity of communication of the language of the Church and the levels of ecumenical extension, in an effort to lead an authentically religious and moral life in sport.

Part III (“Pastoral Aspects,” pp. 187–233) seeks to describe some of the pastoral aspects of sport from the twofold perspective of its challenges and opportunities. After this, it moves toward a consideration of this phenomenon from a more practical perspective.

Dries Vanysacker
Catholic University of Leuven


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