CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — A delegation of NBA players and officials from the National Basketball Players Association met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday.
The Pope told the group through an interpreter, “Sports helps us to be more human.”
Pope Francis called the meeting as a way to learn more about the players’ social justice activism.
The players, in turn, receiving getting an opportunity to bring worldwide awareness to their efforts to shine a light on racial injustice and the deaths of black Americans at the hands of police.
Pope Francis says, “Looking at the problems in society and especially those of social justice – sport can be a means, a good means, of resolving them.”
International Catholic speaker Damon Owens says today’s meeting should be a clarion call.
“I was very surprised, very delighted. I look at his pontificate, his leadership as one of this constant urging for a culture of encounter; and that encounter is an encounter with everyone – whether different beliefs different life experiences different language and vocabulary,” said International Catholic speaker Damon Owens. “It is a challenge to people who profess a Christian faith, a Catholic faith in particular, to look at issues that have strong political overtones that are strongly in one particular camp or another and to put a new lens on it.”
The group of players also presented gifts to the Pontiff including a golden basketball, an Orlando Magic jersey and a book highlighting some of the players’ social justice work.
The Pope told the group, “You’re champions but also giving the example of teamwork – you’ve become a model giving that good example of teamwork but always remaining humble – that’s a beautiful example.”
The players all had to be tested for COVID-19 prior to arriving in Rome and then again upon arrival back in the United States.