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 CNS Story:

CUP-PARISHES Jun-9-2010 (300 words) xxxi

Bishops urge South African Catholics to welcome the world

By Bronwen Dachs
Catholic News Service

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) -- June 13 is World Cup Sunday in parishes around South Africa, and the nation's bishops are urging them to welcome "the world to our church communities."

The Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference said on its World Cup website, www.churchontheball.com, that the nation is "welcoming the world to our home" for the monthlong soccer tournament, which begins June 11. It suggests that parishes could even invite groups of visiting soccer fans to "sing one of their songs."

One homily suggestion on the site is to use 1 Cor 9:24-27, which begins, "Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize?" to draw parallels between the rules of soccer and the rules of life.

Priests could talk about "the need to be competitive without being aggressive, to be patriotic without being partisan/sectarian, to strive to win without being unfair," Salesian Father Francois Dufour suggests on the website.

Noting that South Africa's national anthem, "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" ("God Bless Africa"), was originally a hymn, Father Dufour suggests it be included among the Mass songs, which he says should be "about expressing the joy and diversity of our Catholic life."

The website suggests prayers for the faithful, and Father Dufour says that, as an alternative to the usual response, "Lord hear us," a line from South Africa's national anthem or another invocational refrain could be sung.

He calls on parishes to think about how to socialize with visiting Catholics, how to "make people from other cultures and communities welcome."

Churchontheball.com promotes the bishops' World Cup prayers and church offerings for tourists. It explores the country beyond the soccer stadium and looks at church work in places such as an AIDS hospice.


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