The Vatican’s new cricket team is going on tour, fielding a largely Indian team to play an Anglican squad at the Kent County Cricket Club and the royal household’s XI at Windsor.
The September 12-20 ‘Light of Faith Tour’ aims to forge closer ties between the Catholic and Anglican churches, which split in 1534 after English King Henry VIII was refused a marriage annulment.
A half-millennium later, the two churches remain divided on a host of issues, including female bishops.
On the pitch though, the teams will play a Twenty20 match for a common cause — to raise money for an interfaith initiative to combat human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
The Vatican formed its team last year, tapping mostly Indian and Sri Lankan priests, deacons and seminarians studying in Rome. The idea was the brainchild of Australia’s ambassador to the Holy See, John McCarthy.
During Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s recent visit to Rome, members of the St. Peter’s Cricket Club indicated they would like to meet with the Queen and the royal familyduring their tour.
The Vatican’s culture ministry has long embraced sports as an important area in which the Catholic Church must be present, to engage with young people and offer its values amid corruption, match-fixing, doping and other problems afflicting sport today, said Monsignor Melchor Sanchez de Toca, the No. 2 in the Vatican’s culture ministry.