Professor of Theology and Religious Studies Patrick Kelly, S.J. calls us to reflect on a recent interview shared with Pope Francis and La Gazetta dello Sport. regarding winning and losing. Pope Francis give us food for thought this week as we determine the outcome of our national election. The interviewer mentions that defeat and victory are part of the dynamic of participating in sports, as well as facts of life. Francis responded:
“Winning and losing are two verbs that seem to oppose each other: everyone likes to win and nobody likes to lose. Victory contains a thrill that is even difficult to describe, but defeat also has something wonderful about it. For those used to winning, the temptation to feel invincible is strong: victory, at times, can make you arrogant and lead you to think you have arrived.
Defeat, on the other hand, favors meditation: we ask ourselves the reason for the defeat, we make an examination of conscience, we analyze the work done. This is why, from certain defeats, beautiful victories are born: because, once the mistake is identified, the thirst for redemption is ignited. I would say that whoever wins does not know what he is losing. It is not just a play on words: ask the poor.”
At the end of the interview, the interviewer asked the Pope what his wish was for humanity at the beginning of 2021. Francis responded:
“My wish is very simple, I say it with the words that were written on a shirt that was recently given to me: ‘Better a clean defeat than a dirty victory.’ I wish this for all the world, not just the world of sport. It is the most beautiful way to play the game of life with your head held high.”