Club members will comprise mainly foreign priests and seminarians in Rome
The Vatican is to launch its own international cricket club, according to plans announced by the Pontifical Council for Culture.
The club will comprise mainly priests and seminarians who played cricket in their native countries across the English-speaking world but until now had no outlet to play in Rome. The Vatican is also interested in setting up a women's team and is seeking cricket-playing religious sisters, in particular from nations such as Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan.
The Australian ambassador to the Holy See, John McCarthy, has been influential in setting up the club. A keen cricket fan, Ambassador McCarthy told Vatican Radio: “Cricket as a sport is something that covers many religions and ethnic groups. The Vatican could play the Hindus, Muslims [and] Sikhs. Internationally, one would have a team representing the Vatican drawn from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, England, New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies."
Underlining the initiative's interfaith role, Ambassador McCarthy said there could be a possibility of arranging a cricket match between the Vatican and the Church of England.
The club is part of a wider programme of sports initiatives being introduced by the Pontifical Council for Culture, which views sport as an effective means of engaging in ecumenical and interfaith activity.
Aside from the upcoming Vatican club, there are a number of cricket clubs already active in Rome, comprising predominantly players from south Asian countries along with a handful of Italians (see related article).