Italy’s new evangelization bid: Come for the game, stay for church

ROME – Externally, at least, there’s little particularly Catholic about the fervor that’s swept Italy in anticipation of tonight’s final of the Euro 2020 soccer tournament against England in London’s Wembley Stadium – although one of Italy’s best players is named Chiesa, meaning “Church,” and the country’s biggest sports paper ran the headline “God is Italian!” after the team beat Spain in a shootout in the semifinals. In a poll, most Italians said they’re passionate about this team because its success represents redemption after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, or after the hardships of the coronavirus pandemic. There was nothing about playing for the honor of God, or for Catholic pride, or under the patronage of the Madonna. (Remarkably, 7.3 percent of Italians said they’re not following the tournament at all – which implies, of course, that almost 93 percent are.)

Italy’s new evangelization bid: Come for the game, stay for church

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