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Fr Jean-Yves Urvoy participates in the March 11-12 skiing competition in Italy for Alpine priests from Italy, Switzerland and France (Crux)

A skiing competition for priests held in Italy this month is a tiny example among countless others that despite the Church’s problems and tensions, most Catholics, much of the time, are having a blast, writes John L Allen Jr. Source: Crux. 

To invoke a medical analogy, journalism rarely delivers a whole-body scan when it covers a subject. A news report is more akin to a targeted x-ray, focused on whatever part of the body is creating the biggest problem at the moment – great for identifying a specific ailment, not so much for capturing a patient’s overall state of health.

That thought comes to mind in light of a March 11-12 skiing competition for priests from the Alpine regions of Italy, France and Switzerland, which took place this year in the Italian resort city of Courmayeur, nestled at the foot of the towering Monte Bianco. By all accounts, the 35 clerics who took part thoroughly enjoyed themselves, as did townspeople and visitors enchanted by the spectacle.

To judge from most journalism on the Church, you wouldn’t know such moments were even possible.

Recent Catholic headlines have focused on sources of heartburn such as a Vatican document approving the blessing of same-sex unions, comments from Pope Francis calling on Ukraine to wave a white flag in its war with Russia, and excerpts from a new papal autobiography in which, among other things, he takes aim at his critics. The cumulative impression can be that Catholicism is basically a battlefield, with opposing camps fighting each other continually.

Yet the ski contest, which is just one tiny example among countless others, captures an important corollary: Sure, the Church has its problems and tensions, but despite them, most Catholics, much of time, actually are having a blast. Walk into most parishes, rectories, seminaries, or other Catholic venues, and you won’t find a debating society or a MMA octagon cage – you’ll find family, with all the pathos but also all the joy it implies.

Think of it as the Hillaire Belloc rule: “Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, there’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so, Benedicamus Domino!”


Skiing priests illustrate the ‘rest of the story’ about the Catholic Church (By John L Allen Jr, Crux)