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​Vatican Cricket team
heads to the UK

Catholics and Anglicans will be locked in combat again, as cricketers from the Vatican XI meet the Archbishop of Canterbury’s team at the Kent County cricket ground to compete for the prized St Augustine Cup.

Two years ago, the newly founded St Peter’s Cricket Club narrowly lost against the Church of England team, despite a blessing from Pope Francis ahead of their ‘Light of Faith’ tour. Last autumn the Anglican team travelled to Rome and was beaten by St Peter’s, comprised of Rome-based priests and seminarians from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and England.

From Sunday 11th to Tuesday 20th St Peter’s embark on their second UK tour, this time with a broader ecumenical and interfaith agenda. Following the Canterbury match on Tuesday 13th, both Catholics and Anglicans travel north to the test cricket ground at Edgbaston in Birmingham for a tournament that includes the Mount Cricket Club, made up of Muslim players from West Yorkshire, on Thursday 15th. The following day, St Peter’s players continue on to Yorkshire, where they’ll visit a mosque and see some local Muslim community projects before playing against Mount Cricket Club at the hallowed Headingley ground, home to international test cricket matches since 1899.

The Vatican team starts the tour with another interfaith engagement, playing at Woodford Wells Cricket Club near London against a team of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Buddhist players. Local faith leaders will be in attendance and the new Muslim mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has also been invited.

The interreligious outreach of this tour also enjoys strong support from the national English Cricket Board which sees the potential of the world’s second most popular sport to promote the integration of ethnic communities and to help combat youth radicalization.

Set up in 2013 under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Culture, St Peter’s Cricket Club was the brainchild of former Australian ambassador to the Holy See, John McCarthy. Beyond the competitive sporting experience, its team members aim to share their faith with others, to build bridges across religious and cultural divides and to further what Pope Francis calls ‘the culture of encounter’.

Philippa Hitchen

PRINTED EDITION

 

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Nov. 17, 2019

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