The Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Monsignor Melchor Sànchez de Toca, is the official representative for the Holy See at the event. The Monsignor will travel to PyeongChang with Stefano Calvigioni, an official with the Italian Olympic Committee.
The Holy See observes the IOC Olympic Sessions
Part of the Monsignor’s official visit included being invited to attend the International Olympic Committee’s 5 - 7 February Olympic Sessions. The invitation extended to the Monsignor marks the first time an official from the Holy See has been invited to attend the meeting.
According to information obtained by the Catholic News Agency, the official invitation was extended to the Vatican by Thomas Bach, president of the IOC. The Monsignor said the invitation to attend the Olympic Session was particularly important since the Holy See has no official Olympic committee of its own.
In attending the event, Monsignor Sànchez de Toca told the Catholic News Agency that the Holy See would be attending the Olympic Session and the Olympic Games as a sovereign entity while also representing the Holy Father. It is the Monsignor’s hope that the Holy See’s presence will be one which is “the voice of conscience and morals, which ultimately comes from the message of Christ and the Gospel,” he told the Catholic News Agency.
In speaking on the Holy See’s official position on the tensions that exist between North and South Korea over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, the Monsignor said that the Holy See “backs any efforts for reconciliation that have been made and that will be made during the games”.
This year’s Olympic Games are particularly significant given the political climate which exists between North and South Korea. Earlier this year, Pope Francis expressed his concerns regarding the potential of nuclear war between the two nations and conveyed his desire that world leaders pursue a utopian future, free of nuclear armament.
Unity at the Winter Olympic Games
Ahead of this year’s Winter Olympic Games, the two Koreas reached a temporary armistice for the duration of the games. The recent camaraderie between the two nations means that 22 athletes from North Korea will be able to participate in the games, and 12 athletes from North Korea will be joining South Korea’s Olympic team.
In addition to sending athletes to participate in the Olympics, North Korea is expected to send a large delegation to South Korea, including 230 spectators and 140 artists, as well as North Korean journalists and taekwondo experts.
In speaking of the budding unity between the two nations, the Monsignor told the Catholic News Agency: “We support the small gestures of peace which are able to invite the delegates of other countries to continue negotiations for peace.”
The opening ceremonies of this year’s Olympics will take place at 10.00 pm AET.
Former St Francis Xavier’s College Student Heading to the Olympics
Newcastle’s own, Kailani Craine will be walking with the Australian Olympic Team in the parade of athletes. Click here to read more about the former St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton student’s journey to the Olympics.