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
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
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
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.