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Volleyball players featured in series of dialogues between athletes, Vatican officials

May 26, 2023

Silvia Bennardo and Claudia Gennaro, two leading deaf women’s volleyball players, met with Pope Francis on May 24, L’Osservatore Romano reported.

Following the meeting, the two athletes took part in a public conversation with Barbara Jatta, director of the Vatican Museums. Chiara Porro, Australia’s ambassador to the Holy See, moderated the dialogue, which was facilitated by sign language interpreters. Porro said that they discussed “how sport breaks down barriers and what more is needed to support women in sport.” Later, the athletes saw sport-theme Roman mosaics in the museums.

Paolo Ruffini, the prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, spoke at the event, as did the president of Athletica Vaticana, who “recalled that the first competitions with persons with disabilities were held in the Vatican between 1905 and 1908, in the presence of St. Pius X”—preceding the Paralympics by decades, he said.

In March, Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça, prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education, held similar public conversations with Italian sprinter Filippo Tortu and soccer coach José Mourinho. Athletica Vaticana, the Dicastery for Culture and Education, and the Dicastery for Communication have organized the series.


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