Vatican launches offical track team

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Vatican City (APTN / CBS Newspath) -- The Vatican launched an official track team Thursday (01/10) with the aim of competing in international competitions as part of an agreement signed with the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI).

The Vatican launched an official track team Thursday (01/10) with the aim of competing in international competitions as part of an agreement signed with the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI). Courtesy: APTN / CBS Newspath

About 60 Holy See runners, Swiss Guards, priests, nuns, pharmacists and even a 62-year-old professor who works in the Vatican's Apostolic Library, are the first accredited members of Vatican Athletics.

It's the latest iteration of the Holy See's long-standing promotion of sport as an instrument of dialogue, peace and solidarity.

Because of the agreement with CONI, the team is now a part of the Italian track association and is looking to join the International Association of Athletics Federations. It is hoping to compete in international competitions, including the Games of the Small States of Europe, open to states with fewer than one million people, and the Mediterranean Games.

The choice is significant: Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was a young Jesuit superior in Argentina during the military dictatorship's crackdown on alleged leftist dissidents.