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Pope Warns Athletes On Doping

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By Francis X. Rocca
Religion News Service

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI on Monday (Nov. 15) warned against doping in athletic competition, a practice he called incompatible with "human and Christian values."

The pope made his remarks at a meeting with Italian ski instructors at the Vatican.

"A balance between the physical and the spiritual dimensions ensures we do not idolize the body but respect it; not making it an instrument to be improved at all costs, perhaps even using illicit means," Benedict said.

The pope said athletics, "if practiced passionately and ethically, apart from fomenting a healthy spirit of competition, becomes a school in which to learn and develop human and Christian values."

He praised skiing, in particular, for exposing athletes to the mountains, where "contemplating creation, man recognizes the greatness of God, the ultimate source of his own being and of the universe."

Monday's talk was not the first time that Benedict addressed the matter of performance-enhancing drugs.

Last November, the pope wrote to participants in a Vatican conference that the Catholic church "should continue to support sport for the young ... while avoiding, however, any tendency that disfigures its nature with practices that can even damage the body, as in the case of doping."

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