Ride as Pope’s Ambassadors


For the first time, Athletica Vaticana will have one of its own at the start line of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) World Championships in Wollongong, Australia on Sunday, September 25.

Nothing Johan Schuurhuis, 40, will wear the Vatican jersey, testifying to the values ​​of fraternity and inclusion at the heart of the Pope’s team. “Pope Francis’ emphasis on sport as a vehicle for encounter resonates deeply with my own life experience,” Schuurhuis said in a press release from Athletica Vaticana. “The language of sport is truly universal”, he notes, because “sport has the power to push each of us to give our best, embracing generosity, sacrifice and humility”.

Schuurhuis shares that “cycling was part of everyday life” in his native Netherlands. “We went to work, to school, to the store and to church on bicycles. […] I don’t know exactly when the love of cycling as a sport developed, but I believe it has always been there in my heart. For Schuurhuis, cycling has also provided a solid foundation for many of his friendships, “with people from diverse backgrounds, educations and cultures. The sport,” he says, “transcends age – my oldest cycling friend could be my youngest cycling friend’s grandfather – language and beliefs”.

Like Athletica Vaticana, the small representative team that will be in Wollongong for the world championships will live a concrete experience of fraternity and solidarity with Caritas Australia. Accompanied by the Apostolic Nuncio to Australia, Archbishop Charles Daniel Balvo, the athletes will meet the first Australians at the Kinchela Boys Home.

Christine Rhazi, Associate Director of First Australians at Caritas Australia, and herself of Yamatji Widi descent, explains that Australia is used to making “decisions on behalf rather than with First Australians. This,” she says, “means that we ended up with a lot of policies that don’t work or cause more trauma to culture and communities.” That’s why Caritas Australia “works in close partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and Australia’s first-led organizations to support programs that focus on intergenerational healing, strengthening cultural identity and spirituality, livelihood opportunities and advocacy”.

Founded in 2002, the Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation works closely with Caritas Australia for the social and emotional wellbeing of survivors and their families, and to promote healing from the trauma that continues to negatively impact their lives. , explain the persons in charge of the organization .

Michael “Widdy” Welsh, the association’s president, says the truth must be told for the good of all. “Not just the children who were forcibly removed, but for the greatest pain that is not spoken about”. Because, he says, “we were shunned by the non-Natives when they took us, and then by the Natives when we came home, so we’re still waiting to be identified by our true heritage from our grandfathers. father and grandmother. ground”.


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