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Vatican v. C of E cricket match: book the date

by
23 June 2014

by a staff reporter

CHRIS WARDE-JONES

The Archbishop of Canterbury meets members of the Vatican cricket team

The Archbishop of Canterbury meets members of the Vatican cricket team

DETAILS have been released of the forthcoming cricket match between the Vatican and a C of E side.

The match will take place at Kent County Cricket Club's Spitfire Ground in Canterbury on Friday 19 September. It will be a Twenty20 game, starting at 4 p.m. Entry to the match will be free, though a collection will be taken for the Global Freedom Network, the joint Anglican-Roman Catholic initiative to combat slavery and people-trafficking.

The Vatican squad was unveiled at a press conference in Rome on Monday. It consists of nine seminarians and four priests. Eight come from India, two from Sri Lanka, and there is one each from Pakistan, England and Ireland.

The Anglican team is yet to be selected. Trials of ordinand hopefuls will take place at Lords on Monday 7 July.

The Vatican side will arrive in England a week before the match. It has plans for several warm-up matches, and will join the C of E team for Evensong in Canterbury on the eve of the match.

On Friday night, after the match, the teams will take part in a gala dinner in aid of the Global Freedom Network. The Archbishop of Canterbury is expected to attend.

Archbishop Welby met members of the Vatican team during his visit to Rome last weekend.

He said on Monday: "I and am greatly looking forward to welcoming them to Canterbury in September for what will be an historic occasion. I would like to express particular thanks to Kent County Cricket Club for so generously offering the use of their ground, and to those who are working hard to ensure the St Peter's team enjoy a memorable tour. I also pray that the match will draw attention to the very serious problem of modern slavery and human trafficking, which our two churches are working closely together to combat through the work of the Global Freedom Network."

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, whose initiative this was, said: "In our culture of massive movement of peoples, sport challenges us to examine not just how hospitable we are, as individual athletes, but also how similar we are. For as Jean Giraudoux affirms: 'Sport is the real esperanto of the peoples.'"

The match was also welcomed by the RC Archbishop of Southwark, the Most Revd Peter Smith, and the Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who said: "This must surely be an historic first. I hope this visit is a great success and does much to strengthen friendships between us all."

The Church Times, which has helped to organise clergy cricket in the UK since 1951, is one of the sponsors of the match. Its editor, Paul Handley, said this week: "Sport has seldom featured in the great ecumenical endeavours down the centuries. Perhaps that's why the Churches are still divided. It's obviously going to be a competitive game, but the thing about sport, and cricket especially, is that it brings people together, and puts doctrinal differences - and the Anglicans usually have plenty of those within their own teams - into perspective."

More details of the match will be released soon, but in the mean time, please put the date in your diary.

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