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St Peter's Cricket Club launched at Pontifical Council for Culture

(Vatican Radio) A press conference took place in the Vatican on Tuesday to announce the official launch of St Peter’s Cricket Club, an initiative being jointly spearheaded by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Australian embassy to the Holy See. Philippa Hitchen went along to find out more:

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Traditional tea and cucumber sandwiches were served at the launch of the new St Peter’s Cricket Club, which ambitiously aims to bring one of the world’s most popular sports to the heart of the Eternal City. Board members include Indian, British, Irish and Australian priests, plus the Sri Lankan captain of the first Italian national team, currently ranked at number 23 in the world, proving that it’s not just in the English speaking world that the cricket craze can be found
Beginning with the organization of an inter-college tournament for priests and seminarians here in Rome, the Club hopes by next year to field a high standard ‘Vatican’ team that could play internationally, while promoting ecumenical and interfaith exchanges. The driving force behind this initiative is the Australia’s ambassador to the Holy See, John McCarthy:
"It is hoped that there will be a team of sufficient level, in the next year (that) could play a team nominated by Church of England.....anything that properly builds interfaith and intercultural relations, understanding and exchange, the Commonwealth of Australia sees as an important part of our diplomacy"

The new cricket club comes under the patronage of the Pontifical Council for Culture, in particular its sports department headed by Spanish Msgr Mechor Sanchez de Toca
"There is no doubt that sports have an important place in millions of peoples' daily this phenomenon deserved our particular study.... sports are a powerful means to convey values, attitudes, a moral and ethical message"
Members of the new club are expected to play in the yellow and white Vatican colours with the keys of St Peter as their emblem. Numerous bishops and cardinals across the cricket world have already given their enthusiastic support to the project, seen as a way of furthering a vital team spirit among young men training for the priesthood. Perhaps the popular expression, ‘the Vatican thinks in centuries’ will suddenly take on a whole new meaning as St Peter’s batmen stride out to play