May Winter Olympics cultivate fraternity and peace, says Pope Francis

As the Winter Olympics begin in Beijing, China, this week, Pope Francis has sent his well wishes for all involved and has expressed his hopes for the fruits of the games to go beyond simply athletic accomplishment.

Speaking at his weekly general audience, the Holy Father sent his greetings to the athletes and organizers of both the Winter Olympic Games and Paralympic Winter Games, which begin on February 4 and March 4, respectively.

“I warmly greet all participants. I wish the organizers every success and the athletes the very best. Sport, with its universal language, can build bridges of friendship and solidarity between individuals and peoples of all cultures and religions,” he said.

Motto Improved

Pope Francis expressed his appreciation for a new addition to the original Olympic motto, comprised of three Latin words, “Citius, Altius, Fortius,” meaning Higher, Stronger, Faster.

According to the International Olympic Committee, “The original motto was first expressed by the Dominican priest Henri Didon in the opening ceremony of a school sports event in 1881.”

As of July 2021, the motto now reads ““Citius, Altius, Fortius – Communiter” in Latin, “Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together” in English.

“The International Olympic Committee has added the word “communiter”, that is, “together”: so that the Olympic Games may bring about a more fraternal world. Together,” said the Holy Father.

Real Gold Medal

Pope Francis remembered the Paralympic community in a special way, acknowledging their unique opportunity to assist the world in becoming a more welcoming and accepting place.

“We will win the most important medal together, if the example of athletes with disabilities helps everyone to overcome prejudices and fears and to make our communities more welcoming and inclusive,” he remarked.

This, he explained, the “real gold medal.”

He also spoke of refugee athletes and the role they can play in raising awareness for the plight of refugees around the world. 

“May their testimonies help to encourage civil societies to open up with ever greater confidence to all, leaving no one behind,” he prayed.

He concluded his remarks by wishing all the Olympic and Paralympic participants a fraternal and peaceful games. Quoting Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, Pope Francis said, “Blessed are the peacemakers!”

Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.