BRAZIL  – Pope sends message to Brazil and Cardinal of Rio de Janeiro blesses Olympic torch


Cardinal Orani Joao Tempesta,the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, blessed the Olympic torch as he stood below the emblematic statue of Christ the Redeemer.  The torch was carried there by  former Olympic Brazilian volleyball player Maria Isabel Barroso Salgado, who ran most of the challenging uphill road to the statue of Christ the Redeemer. The blessing of the torch marked the final day of the torch’s 95-day journey across Brazil to the Olympic stadium for the start of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. From there, the torch started on its last leg to the Maracana Stadium where the opening ceremonies will be held on the evening of Aug. 5.

As he led the crowd in prayer, the cardinal said “I wish the Olympic Games to be a wonderful experience of fraternity and peace, and an opportunity to help build a more just country…..  We hope we will live the days of peace that are part of the ‘Olympic truce’ that will go all the way to the Paralympics.”

The Cardinal recalled the words that Pope Francis addressed to those competing in the international games in Brazil during his general audience at the Vatican on 3 Aug: “I wish that the Olympic spirit may inspire all to build a civilization of solidarity.” The Holy Father added “In a world thirsting for peace, tolerance, and reconciliation, I hope that the spirit of the Olympic Games inspires all – participants and spectators – to ‘fight the good fight’ and finish the race together.”

Francis concluded with the hope that in competing this year, the Olympic athletes will desire “to obtain as a prize, not a medal, but something much more precious: the construction of a civilization in which solidarity reigns and is based upon the recognition that we are all members of the same human family, regardless of the differences of culture, skin colour, or religion.”

Pope Francis also sent a warm greeting to the people of Brazil saying, “I hope that this will be an opportunity to overcome difficult moments and commit…to working as a team to build a more just and safe country, betting all on a future full of hope and joy.”

The Holy Father’s universal prayer intention for this month is: “That sports may be an opportunity for friendly encounters between peoples and may contribute to peace in the world.”

 ACN Malta