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Striving for the best in our sporting nation

Good sports: At the launch of the Australian Catholic bishops’ 2014-­2015 Social Justice Statement are, from left, Kevin Sheedy, Geraldine Doogue and Bishop Christopher Saunders. Photo: The Catholic Weekly

Good sports: At the launch of the Australian Catholic bishops’ 2014-­2015 Social Justice Statement are, from left, Kevin Sheedy, Geraldine Doogue and Bishop Christopher Saunders. Photo: The Catholic Weekly

AUSTRALIA’S Catholic bishops have gone into bat for the future of “good sport” in Australia.

This follows the launch of the bishops’ 2014­2015 Social Justice Statement, A Crown for Australia: Striving for the best in our sporting nation.

The statement comes ahead of Social Justice Sunday being celebrated on September 28.

Former AFL coach and player Kevin Sheedy and journalist Geraldine Doogue launched the statement on September 17 at The Crypt in St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney.

The statement highlights the vital role sport plays in the health of individuals, the life of communities and the inclusion of all in Australian society.

It also warns the “majesty of sport” is being threatened by a “win at all costs” mentality, associated drug and alcohol abuse by players and spectators and gambling.

Australian Catholic Social Justice Council chairman Bishop Christopher Saunders put the bishops’ view simply in his message at the start of the statement.

“Good sport makes everyone a winner,” he said.

“Sport also holds a mirror up to our society.

“As the statement says, we like to think that it reflects the best in us as individuals and as a community – but we also have to admit that it can reflect the worst in us.

“Sport can show us a side to our society that is not only ugly but often unjust as well.”

Bishop Saunders also noted the statement drew its title from St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, “writing of an athlete’s rigorous training in order to win ‘a wreath that will wither’ (1 Corinthians 9:24–27).

“In the words of the statement, the athlete’s reward is ‘a forerunner of the imperishable crown that we are striving for in our spiritual lives’,” the bishop said.

A Crown for Australia: Striving for the best in our sporting nation can be downloaded at www.socialjustice.catholic.org.au.

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