The Vatican has beckoned New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow and Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin, neither of which are Catholic, to appear at its upcoming sports conference, arranged by the Pontifical Council for Culture.
According to a report by the Catholic News Service, the Council is planning an international event that seeks to encourage morals among athletes following the recent admission of Lance Armstrong, a former award-winning cyclist, of using performance-enhancing drugs to win seven consecutive Tour De France races. Governing bodies such as the International Federation of Football Association, the International Cycling Union and the Italian National Olympic Committee have all been invited to the global effort.
Monsignor Melchor Sanchez de Toca Alameda said that the event, called “We Believe in Sports,” is meant to change the attitude and culture of today’s athletes.
“We want to work with the big sports bodies to give new value to sports,” he said. “[Professional sports] have become a commodity that is subordinate to the free market and, therefore, to profit.”
“[We want] to help put healthy values back into sport and counteract the current market logic, because if the current state of affairs continues, all is lost,” Almeda continued.
He stated that he wanted to have both Catholic and Christian sports figures at the event to show how faith can be an influence in sports. However, Almeda noted that there is also a deeper motive.
“We want to see lots of cardinals in tracksuits, too,” he said.
It is yet unknown whether Tebow or Lin, both evangelical Christians, have accepted the invitation, or whether either athlete opposes ecumenical events. Some Christians refuse to work with the Vatican because they believe that its traditions and teachings are unBiblical.
Tim Tebow has become known in the football world for his trademark prayer pose, also known as “Tebowing,” where he goes down on one knee, and then raises his fist to his forehead as he bows to acknowledge God on the football field. He has also been recognized in years past for inscribing Bible verses on his face with eye black, such as John 3:16 or Ephesians 2:8-10. His practice has sparked the curiosity of many, who have then Googled the Scriptures.
Jeremy Lin of the Houston Rockets, like Tebow, is also known to be vocal about his faith in Christ.
“If you were to ask him if he were a basketball player, he’d say yes,” Lin’s pastor, Stephen Chen, told the New York Daily News. “But in all those things, Jeremy understands that those things do not define him. He would say that he’s a Christian Chinese person, or a Christian basketball player. That defines him.”
“[In starting his career], there was no positive thinking, no ‘if you work hard good things will come,’ ” he continued. “You work hard because what the Lord has given you. You do it unto Him.”