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Aaron L. Dylewski
by on March 10, 2019

Representatives from two sport cycling organizations met with Pope Francis in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace in Rome this past Sunday. 

Welcoming them, the Pope said cycling is “one of the sports that places emphasis on patience in effort, on long and difficult climbs; courage, in trying to breakaway or making a sprint; integrity, in respecting the rules; altruism and team spirit.”

The Pontifex, not known for his knowledge of professional cycling, diplomatically added:

If we consider road cycling we can see how the whole team works together during the races: the support riders, the sprinters, the climbers. They often have to sacrifice themselves for the leader, and when a teammate experiences difficulty it is the other teammates who show support and accompaniment. In life too, it is necessary to cultivate a spirit of selflessness, generosity and community in order to help those who have fallen behind and who need help to achieve a certain goal.

The audience with the pope was arranged to coincide with the 32nd Annual Congress of the European Cycling Union (UEC), which is being staged in Rome alongside the eighth Assembly of the African Cycling Confederation (CAC).

Continuing his speech to the assembled officials from the world of cycling, Pope Francis said:

Many cyclists have been examples, in sport and in life, for their integrity and consistency, giving of their best in cycling. In their careers they have known how to combine strength of mind and determination to achieve victory, but also solidarity and joy of living in bearing witness to having discovered the potential of the human being, created in the image and likeness of God, and the beauty of living in communion with others and with creation.

Perhaps mindful of the Catholic Church’s less-than-exemplary conduct in recent years, Pope Francis ended on a reflective note:

The commitment that the Church has undertaken to listen to young people, to take to heart their expectations, and their ways of expressing their desire to live and fulfil themselves is also beneficial for you. It is necessary to accompany new generations without losing sight of the healthy traditions and popular culture that, in many countries of the world, accompanies cycling and its champions.

Last year, the pope likened his religious organisation to balancing on two wheels: “The church is like a bicycle,” he said. “It stays upright as long as it keeps moving.” adding, "In fact, the equilibrium of the church, so to speak, is found precisely in its mobility, in fidelity to the Holy Spirit.”

Pope Francis was gifted with an all-white town bicycle by the European Cycling Union and the African Cycling Confederation


Posted in: Arts & Culture
Topics: rome, town bike