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Vatican calls for peace pause in World Cup final

By Sarah Mac Donald - 12 July, 2014

Pope Francis with Argentina soccer jersey

Pope Francis with Argentina soccer jersey

Source: Elise Harris for Catholic News Agency

The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture has launched an initiative aimed at uniting the world in asking for peace in warring countries.

The ‘Pause for Peace’ initiative is seeking approval for a moment of silence to be held during the World Cup soccer final on Sunday between Argentina and Germany.

“Sports were born around religious festivities. Sporting events were moments of peace when wars ceased, as for example the Olympic truce,” Mgr Melchor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda said at the launch of the ‘Pause for Peace’ campaign.

“Why not for the World Cup? Why not a pause, a moment of silence, a truce for peace?” Mgr Sanchez, undersecretary at the Pontifical Council for Culture and head of the section for culture and sport asked.

He referred to the ancient Greek tradition of “ekecheiria” or “truce” that was put into practice during times of war in order to allow citizens safe travel to the Olympic Games.

Established in the 9th century BC as a treaty signed by three kings, the truce allowed athletes, artists, their families, and ordinary pilgrims to travel in complete safety to participate in or attend the games, as well as a safe return to their home countries.

The ‘Pause for Peace’ campaign, launched on the Pontifical Council for Culture’s website and Facebook page, is simply named “a call for peace.”

Richard Rouse, a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture, told CNA, “It’s as simple as it says. It’s just that one simple phrase – we live in an age of simplicity, we don’t need big, long speeches to get the point across. We just want peace, simple as that.”

Rouse said because much of the world will be watching the final game, “we just thought it would be a good opportunity to take a moment, 30 seconds, a minute, to remember all those who are suffering in the wars around us.”

That pause, he said, “could be a moment at the beginning of the game, in the middle or whenever.”

“We’ll leave that up to the organisers to decide, but to take a moment to ask for peace in the middle of so many conflicts.”

The World Cup final match will be played on 13 July between Germany and Argentina.

In addition to being shared on Facebook, the pontifical council is also promoting the initiative on Twitter with the hashtag #PAUSEforPeace.

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