The Vatican's cricket club plans to host a Muslim team from Yorkshire, England, as well as squads from the Church of England and the slums of Argentina in an effort to blend sports with faith outreach, reported the Associated Press. The Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture announced the slate of matches Thursday.
The Vatican's team, called St. Peter's Cricket Club, was founded in 2013 and is composed of seminarians and young priests, many of whom are from Sri Lanka, India. The squad is scheduled to play Mount Cricket Club of Yorkshire, a Muslim club made up of mostly Pakistanis on Oct. 17 at Rome's Campanelle Cricket Ground.
— St. Peter's Cricket (@VaticanCricket) September 30, 2015
The match against the Muslim club will “gather together players and spectators in friendship, energy, good competition and a desire to win,” said the Rev. Robert McCulloch, an Australian priest who founded the Vatican's club, according to the Telegraph.
"It's Muslims and Catholics playing together — a bridge being made in sport between believers," McCulloch added, according to the Associated Press. The Yorkshire club expressed excitement about the matchup, posting to Twitter that playing against the Pope's team a "brilliant way to finish the season!"
We now have a trip to Rome to play the popes team to look forward to in October,!! Brilliant way to finish the season! #ItalyTour
— Mount Cricket Club (@MountCricket) September 26, 2015
St. Peter's Cricket Club is also scheduled to play an Oct. 14 match against the Caacupe de la Villa club from the Villa 21 slum of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The team from the same slum in which Pope Francis, then Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was archbishop.
The Vatican's club will also play a rematch against the squad from the Church of England, which separated from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534. The Anglican team narrowly defeated the Catholic club in their first meeting in September 2014 in a match that was billed as an effort to improve relations between the two Christian denominations. It was also played to increase awareness to raise awareness, and money, for the Global Freedom Network, an initiative from multiple religions to eliminate modern slavery.