Vatican City, 27 July 2012 – It was 1908 when, in the wake of a serious economic crisis, Rome renounced hosting the Olympic Games which were eventually celebrated in London, England. In the same year Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, sought help from the Vatican to support the Games, and Pope St. Pius X in person offered him his support.

More than one hundred years later, the London is hosting the Olympic Games for the third time. The event is due to open this evening.

That moment at the beginning of the twentieth century is described in a book entitled “Pio X e lo sport” by Antonella Stelitano. At that time “less than one per cent of the population practised any sporting activity, … and sport was used only as a form of military training or as a pastime for the upper classes”, the author explained in an interview with Vatican Radio.

However “St. Pius X … was aware of the educational potential of sport”. He saw it as a way “to approach young people, and to bring them together while following certain rules and showing respect for adversaries. I believe”, the author explained, “that he understood that it was possible to bring people together simply, without any problems of race, religion or differing political ideas”.

At that time in history many people did not understand the importance of exercise, said Antonella Stelitano who concluded her interview by recalling an anecdote whereby Pius X told one of his cardinals: “All right, if it is impossible to understand that this can be done, then I myself will do exercise in front of everyone so that they may see that, if the Pope can do it, anyone can do it”.

Pius X accorded to Baron Pierre de Coubertin a private audience and conversed with him at length about the Olympic games, and said that the Church throughout the world ought to take eager interest in athletic culture, and help in promoting physical progress among the boys and girls of the rising generation. The Pope expressed the opinion that healthful open-air sport was the surest means of compensating for the ever-increasing strenuous mental work required of all—women as well as men—who take an intelligent share in the everyday tasks of contemporary civilization.

St. Pius’s affirmation of the mind/body connection is deeply Thomistic—which is not surprising, given his promotion of the Angelic Doctor’s thought.

Note too that Pius stressed the importance of exercise “for women as well as men” because he recognized that they too were required to do strenuous mental work and take an intelligent share in the everyday tasks of contemporary civilization. Such sympathy for women is no surprise coming from the Pope who wrote so movingly about the redemptive co-suffering of the Blessed Virgin Mary in union with Christ.

The Tribune reporter’s account also supports Stelitano’s anecdote about how Pius X sought to show the media that if the Pope can exercise, anyone can:

Pius X believes there is a certain correlation between broad chests and broad minds. Himself a man of robust physique, and hardy temperament, he puts his faith in exercise and oxygen, and considers a few moments of brisk muscular action with elastic straps or dumbbells as the best preparation and incentive for concentrated brain work.

Pius X’s influence was all the more impressive, the reporter says, because it was not so with the early Church, which condemned the ancient Olympic games for their promotion of paganism:

The Pope dwelt upon the significance of the favor now bestowed by the Church upon athletic sports, which is the more interesting because it was originally the Church’s influence that interfered with the sports of old, and it was the Church that urged the Emperor Theodore [Theodosius I] to stop the Olympic games. Pius X has thus initiated a new era in regard to physical culture, and the importance of this step will soon be felt throughout the Roman Catholic world, especially in the schools, seminaries, and universities under Roman Catholic auspices.


About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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  1. toadspittle says:


    “Note too that Pius stressed the importance of exercise “for women as well as men” because he recognized that they too were required to do strenuous mental work and take an intelligent share in the everyday tasks of contemporary civilization. “

    But not to take an intelligent share in the everyday tasks of contemporarypriesthood, of course. Men only!

    On another recent CP&S post, Archbishop Muller tells us..
    “The Vatican strongly and formally teaches that the church cannot change the male-only priesthood because Christ chose only men to be his apostles.”
    Christ also only chose Jews, and only circumcised men. Maybe only circumcised Jews ought to be allowed to be Catholic priests? Interesting thought.


  2. JabbaPapa says:

    Archbishop Müller has not provided the only reason why women may not be ordained as priests.

    1) The vocation, and Catholic feminine ideal, of motherhood is very strongly defined as being completely incompatible with the priesthood

    2) The VAST majority of Catholics, lay, clergy, religious, is, and always has been, both strongly attached to the all-male priesthood, and strongly opposed to the ordination of women

    3) The doctrine that only men may be ordained into the priesthood has been provided with infallibility and irrevocability — the doctrine MUST be adhered to de fide by ALL Catholics.


  3. toadspittle says:

    “The vocation, and Catholic feminine ideal, of motherhood is very strongly defined as being completely incompatible with the priesthood.”..explains Jabba.

    Toad would have thought that motherhood was “incompatible” with the vocation of being a nun as well.

    But, regardless of whimples, he was only mildly teasing when he suggested women might ever become Catholic priests.
    That would inded be throwing the thin end of the wedge out with the bathwater with a vengence!
    Why, if it ever happend , next thing you know there’d be women footballers, women politicians, (women Prime Ministers even!) women soldiers, women shot putters, women lawyers, (women on the U.S. Supreme Court even!) women jockeys, women Anglican priests and heaven knows what all else women!
    And we’d probably even end up with women voters!

    No. Best to leave things as they are. Jabba’s right, as usual.


  4. kathleen says:

    Having seen the destruction and turmoil the Anglican Church has been through with the ‘ordination’ of women, why would you even suggest that such a devastation should befall the Catholic Church, Toad? Besides, except for a very small handful of frustrated ultra-feminists, Catholic women don’t want to be priests!
    The whole thing is a non-starter anyway, because as Jabba points out, the male only priesthood is an ‘infallible’ and ‘irrevocable’ doctrine.
    Sit back Toad, leave banal and pointless arguments behind, and enjoy the next few weeks of excitement and awe as the London Olympics unfolds.

    What I found astonishing in the article above is that: “less than one per cent of the population practised any sporting activity,…” at the time of St. Pope Pius X. I had never realised that before.
    No wonder we are a much healthier lot nowadays. 🙂


  5. The Raven says:


    Christ chose from those around him: surprisingly enough all of the people around him were Jewish (Him being in Israel an’ all; the one gentile who is mentioned in the Gospels as a disciple is the Roman officer whose child He heals).

    Christ is surrounded by men and women, as he repeatedly demonstrates during the Gospel narratives, he is a deeply transgressive figure: He was ready to ride roughshod over the manners and customs of His times.

    Why didn’t He choose women as His apostles? By what right can we change something that He instituted?


  6. toadspittle says:

    Raven, simply because Christ didn’t happen to choose any women as his apostles, why should we assume he wouldn’t have done so, if a suitable candidiate had presented herself?
    Did Christ ever say, “No women apostles, I’m not just having them.”?

    “Besides, except for a very small handful of frustrated ultra-feminists, Catholic women don’t want to be priests!”
    Well, you might be right, Kathleen. But how do you know that? However, if you are correct, who can blame them?
    Certainly very few Catholic men, it seems, want to be priests either, these days.
    And who can blame them, either?

    Any women out there with a view on this?


  7. toadspittle says:


    I can just imagine Kathleen a hundred years ago: “Except for a handful of frustrated men-wannabees , women don’t want the vote!


  8. kathleen says:

    Toad, you have an incredible ability for going off on a tangent! What on earth has ‘votes for women’ got to do with women priests? They are two entirely different issues. (Btw, I’m all for votes for women; I like to have my say!)

    There is such a wide spectrum of topics that can be discussed within the Catholic Church, and that is why blogs like CP&S exist, so that as well as enlightening and evangelising each other and our visitors from all over the world – some whom contribute very positively with their comments – we can also argue, debate, explain, share and compare so many interesting and wonderful aspects and ideas of Catholic life. This all forms part of the Church’s mission.
    But there are certain Traditions and teachings of the Catholic Church that are not debatable; they form part of Catholic Doctrine that we accept because we are (or try to be) faithful Catholics. That women cannot be priests is one of these ‘infallible’ teachings.

    But in no way whatsoever does this prevent women from participating very fully within the Church. Besides the many famous female saints and doctors of the Church of old, we have had some truly amazing women in recent times who have contributed (and still are contributing) so much to the life of the Church worldwide. Being members of the ‘fair’ sex has not hindered them in any way in fulfilling Our Blessed Lord’s command to: “Go you therefore; teach all nations“.


  9. golden chersonnese says:

    Toad, my friends and I are quite happy having a male priest (a monsignor, in fact) to boss around while we we are busy running virtually everything in the parish, thank you.


  10. The Raven says:


    We are presented with a number of remarkable women in the Gospels, many of whom outshine the men that He chose (think Our Lady, Mary Magdalene, Martha, the Samaritan woman). Why didn’t He choose one of them?

    All of them, not least the common women of Jerusalem, were better than Peter the denier, Thomas the doubter, and the rest of the shower that deserted Him at the cross: but He chose them.

    And they did His will: travelling far and suffering terribly in the service of His name.

    By what right, by what authority can we gain say his choices, Toad?


  11. toadspittle says:

    “Toad, you have an incredible ability for going off on a tangent! “

    Why, thank you, Kathleen.
    He was beginning to think that nobody had noticed.

    However, back on tangent: “That women cannot be priests is one of these ‘infallible’ teachings.” This, I suggest, is not a matter of “infallibility” but a decision taken by the Church which, it has decided, is not debatable. Not at all the same thing.

    As I said to Raven earlier – as far as I know, Jesus never said, “There will never be any women priests in my Church,” but, then, maybe I’m wrong.
    Maybe he did say that. No matter. If he didn’t, someone else certainly did.

    Well, it’s His Church, and e can do what He likes with it. Fine with Toad.

    Nor am I a bit surprised that Godlen, along with her monsterous regiment, bosses the poor old, hen-pecked Monseengnor from pillar to post. (or from pediment to portico, or from triptyich to triforium.)

    And I’ll bet he just loves every excruciating moment of it!



  12. kathleen says:

    Toad, don’t be ridiculous! As you well know, there were many issues that were never written down in the Holy Gospels as coming directly from Jesus Christ. From the very beginning of the life of the Church, the Apostles, and later the Fathers of the Church, used their God-given authority to define these teachings.

    If one believes that Jesus is God, and hence (obviously) speaks the Truth, you cannot deny that He founded the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, giving the ‘keys’ to Peter (and his successors) when He said: “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
    And also: “Truly I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven.” (Matthew 18:18)

    Therefore when the Church defines Dogmas and Doctrines of the Faith (through the Pope and Magisterium of the Church), she speaks “en persona Christi“.


  13. JabbaPapa says:

    Toad would have thought that motherhood was “incompatible” with the vocation of being a nun as well.

    Toad would of course be wrong — women who have had children are just as eligible to become nuns as men who have had children are to become monks.


  14. toadspittle says:


    Is Jabba being dense here, or simply ornery?

    Of course, a woman can have six kids, then decide to become a nun. Toad assumes that she will then renounce the idea of “motherhood,” as it is generally understood, since she will presumably vow, or at least intend, to quit having nippers, at least for as long as she remains a nun.
    Motherhood would thus be incompatible with her vocation.

    Jabba may be eligible for a great many things, such as becoming a monk, or winning free Marmite for life, or a pensioner’s bus pass, or a poolside seat for the Synchronised Swimming.

    Doesn’t mean to say he has to become one, or accept the others. He knows that.


  15. toadspittle says:

    Now, Kathleen, if Toad is being ridiculous in thinking that the idea of a woman priest is feasable, then so are many millions of Christians, who also think that way.
    That’s something we can both agree on.
    The notion may be unacceptable to you.
    Unfeasable it is not.
    In fact, Toad knows a couple.
    One is a big wheel at Canterbury cathedral.
    I imagine she believes, “..that Jesus is God, and hence (obviously) speaks the Truth..”


  16. kathleen says:

    Yes Toad, I know that many Protestants try to twist those above-mentioned words of Jesus’s to Peter about the Church to suit themselves, but the fact remains that Truth cannot be divisive (i.e., it cannot have two separate meanings at the same time) so the authority to define it can only be with the Church He founded, the Catholic Church.

    What I was referring to – and which I realise I didn’t make clear – when I (cheekily) told you not to ‘be ridiculous’, was because you had said to Raven that Jesus had never said, “There will never be any women priests in my Church,” to justify being in favour of women priests……, and I was pointing out how the Holy Spirit guides the Church in her pronouncements and teachings because there are many issues that Jesus never referred to directly in His public life on Earth, but He gave Peter (the Pope), the Apostles (representing the Magisterium) and their successors, authority to do so. Other examples could be Abortion, Euthanasia, homosexual ‘marriage’, birth control, etc, etc, which the Church, speaking ‘en persona Christi’, condemns as clearly wrong, although there are no precise words quoted in the Gospels of Our Blessed Lord doing so.


  17. toadspittle says:

    Very well put, Kathleen.

    It strikes Toad that, as always, the problem here is what each of us means when we say – for example – the word “priest.”

    I don’t think Protestants try and “twist” things, any more than Catholics or Agnostics do.
    Can’t answer for The Quivering Brethren, though…


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