06/07/2018, 10.42
RUSSIA
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Asceticism, exercise, doping: the Russian Church prepares for the World Cup

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The world championships will be held from June 14 to July 15. Kirill praises sport by comparing it to asceticism, but deplores doping and the pursuit of victory at all cost. Sports centers in parishes. The Patriarch of Moscow regularly practices physical exercises and sport and has asked the priests to follow his example.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – Ahead of the World Cup which will be held in Russia (June 14 - July 15), the Patriarch of Moscow Kirill (Gundjaev) has invited sportsmen to asceticism. Without self-control and self-limitations, said Kirill, "top-level athletes will not be able to resist the temptations of glory, and must try not to lose their heads."

The same thing happens in one’s spiritual life, assured the patriarch: "there is no success without self-discipline, without sacrifice. It is precisely here that the foundations of the profound interconnection between the Church and the Christian vision of sport are laid", the head of the Russian Orthodox Church said yesterday, at the meeting of the Patriarchal Commission for Culture and Sport. If one analyzes the successes of sportsmen and their biography, where glory and vanity take the upper hand, the path of life becomes a defeat. As long as the champion is on the pedestal, everything is fine, but when he stops playing sports, "personal ambitions begin to gnaw and ruin everything from the inside; for this reason the spiritual strength must absolutely accompany the sportsman, above all at top levels", concluded the patriarch, recommending priests to stay close to the athletes.

Also during the work of the Commission, Kirill highlighted the need to develop sports activities within the parish life. "Sport attracts young people, including participation in parish life, and also helps young people to form a proper relationship with physical activity and sport", said the Patriarch. And he recommended to develop the methodological principles for the formation of diocesan sports clubs and sections, with training, competitions and championships at ecclesiastical and local level.

The spiritual guide of the Russians said he regularly practiced physical exercises and sports, to be able to fully fulfill his duties, and advised all priests to follow his example. "Sport keeps you fit and strengthens volitional qualities ... mens sana in corpore sano!" Patriarch Kirill reminded everyone. He also specified that "sport is not an enemy of Christianity", excluding those sports, whose main purpose is to cause the maximum trauma, or even the killing of the person, as often happens in illegal combat competitions.

The patriarch also voiced his sharp criticism of doping, which contradicts the Christian conception of achieving the result through hardwork and willpower: "This claim to reach supernatural possibilities has harmful spiritual roots. One cannot raise oneself beyond oneself with means that can cause damage to the health, and even to the life of the person, "said Kirill, again comparing athletes with ascetics, who make sacrifices to achieve their intended goals.

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