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An Omissive Pope Blesses the Olympics

Marian T. Horvat
Olympic covers for the Time magazine

TIME covers - immodesty & the idolatry of sport in the Olympics 2012

My good friend Jan and I are in perfect accord on the Summer Olympics 2012 that opened in London on July 27, 2012. We are against them and are boycotting them. The dress – or lack of it – has become downright embarrassing. Most of the athletes – men and women – are semi-nude. Catholic Morals teaches us that blatant immodesty is not acceptable at any time, including in sports.

A secondary reason that Jan mentioned: “They are having women’s boxing for the first time. That is revolting, watching muscled women wearing mouth guards punching each other in a ring.”

It was not difficult to find a preview of how athletes would be appearing in the Olympics. Interviews and photo spreads have flooded the internet, television, and print media. Take a look at three of the five pre-Olympics covers of Time Magazine above, and you will see pictures that Catholic Morals qualifies as indecent, not permissible in any good Catholic home.

Today, it is sad to say, most people have become so accustomed to immodesty in sports that it hardly causes an eyebrow to lift. Not to mention the complete silence of preachers on the matter. These Olympics testify to the death of Catholic modesty.

Benedict XVI – an unrestricted blessing

Benedict XVI is following in the steps of his predecessor John Paul II, who praised athletics and sports as a tool to build a universal brotherhood. The primary focus of sports shifted from a tool to bring man closer to God to something different, a tool to foster universal fraternity.

Pope blesses the olympics, immodest men and women competing in the olympic games

Benedict XVI blesses the Olympics unrestrictedly as a tool for universal fraternity

In his Sunday address on July 22, 2012, Benedict reaffirmed this new focal point.

“Let us pray that, according to God’s will, the London Games are a true experience of fraternity among the people of the Earth,” he said. Can Catholics accept a universal fraternity based on sports and games, setting ideas and faiths aside?

“I send greetings to the organizers, athletes and spectators alike, and I pray that, in the spirit of the Olympic Truce, the good will generated by this international sporting event may bear fruit, promoting peace and reconciliation throughout the world. Upon all those attending the London Olympic Games, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God,” Pope Ratzinger concluded. (1)

Addressing the question of the Olympics, it seems strange that the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth did not warn his more than one-billion flock of three important points:
  • first, Catholic athletes should dress modestly according to the rules of Morals in order to not cause scandal;

  • second, Catholics should not watch sports wherein these rules are not observed;

  • third, Catholics should not make sports an idol.
Doesn’t the Pope’s duty to teach Morals oblige him to alert Catholics, and especially youth, to practice custody of the eyes, that is, to avoid the danger of sin - to which watching almost nude bodies performing athletics and acrobatics can certainly lead?

Since Vatican II, we no longer hear sound moral norms preached by the religious authorities.

Pre-Vatican II guidelines

When Pope Pius XII addressed Sports Leaders on November 8, 1952,  he laid out some principles to orient Catholic athletes. (2) Today these sound instructions have been set aside and forgotten. He reminded us that the immediate purpose of sports and gymnastics is to discipline, develop and strengthen the body. The remote purpose is to contribute to the perfection of a man’s spirit, and the supreme goal is to bring man closer to God.

“It follows,” he instructed, “approval must be given to everything, in its proper place, that helps to attain the ends indicated. On the other hand, whatever does not lead to those ends or leads away from them, or does not keep the place properly assigned to it, must be rejected.”

Based on this criterion, he issued these warnings:

Women boxing at the olympics

Violent women dressed like men enter the boxing arena; below, near nude water polo players

polo players 2012
  • It is wrong to esteem the body more than is right, “to make a god of the body” by paying too much attention to it. This is “because the first place in man’s composite belongs to the spirit, to the spiritual soul.”

  • In some sports, gymnastics and dance, “there is a certain nudism which is neither necessary nor proper. … The religious and moral sense place its veto on that kind of gymnastics and sport.”

  • Sports and gymnastics should not be made the highest aim of life, which would be “too trifling for man, whose primary greatness consists in far higher aspirations, tendencies and talents.”

  • The practice of sports should not compromise the joys and duties of family life or religious duties. Although the Church does not forbid sports on Sunday, she insists “that it remain the Lord’s Day, the day of repose of body and soul.”
In short, what Pius XII counseled is that the correct hierarchy of values must always be kept. Moral integrity and natural modesty, due care of one’s’ life and and health, the duties to family and profession, must not be made secondary to sporting activities and their successes.

What a good thing it would be if Benedict XVI, instead of cheering the Revolution at each new step it takes, were to pay a little more attention to what his Predecessors taught. This would prevent his “blessings” on sports from being in such blatant contradiction with the previous Catholic Magisterium, and would prevent the faithful from falling into the diabolical disorientation in which we live today.

  1. 1.“Pope Benedict XVI blesses Olympics as hope for peace,” TheNews online, July 23, 2012
  2. 2. Papal Teachings on the Human Body, Selected by The Monks of Solesmes, Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1960, pp. 214-226.
Posted August 6, 2012