The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture has thanked Dr Ishrat ul Ebad Khan, Governor of Sindh in Pakistan, for his support of the Vatican Cricket Club which is about to tour England. And the Governor has presented a cheque, along with six Test-quality, made-in-Pakistan, cricket bats, as “a gift to the Vatican as a token of friendship.”
Governor Ishrat ul Ebad made the presentation to Columban Fr Robert McCulloch, from Australia, and Aamir Bhatti, a Pakistani seminarian who has been selected for the touring Vatican cricket team.
Columban Fr McCulloch worked in Pakistan as a missionary priest for 34 years and is now Procurator-General of the Columban Fathers in Rome. Fr McCulloch is a committee member of St Peter’s Cricket Club and arrived in Karachi for the presentation ceremony that took place at the Governor’s House on Tuesday evening, 8th July.
The official club name is St Peter’s Cricket Club, but is popularly called the Vatican XI. Papal colours of white and gold, with the crossed-key emblem of the Vatican make up the uniform design. The cricket team is sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Vatican’s department for sport.
The Vatican’s cricket team is an international group of Catholic priests and seminarians in Rome and is made up of eight Indians, two Sri Lankans and one each from Pakistan, England and Ireland. The team’s wicket-keeper is Pakistani player, Aamir Bhatti (from Karachi) who has been preparing in Rome for three years to become a Catholic priest.
The Vatican team will travel from Rome to England in September and play against the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI, the Royal Household at Windsor Castle, and other teams. Pope Francis will say farewell to the team before they leave for England.
Proceeds from the matches will go to the GLOBAL FREEDOM NETWORK, the joint Anglican-Roman Catholic-Muslim anti-trafficking charity.
During the presentation, Governor Ishrat ul Ebad expressed his happiness that a Pakistani from Karachi has been selected for the Vatican cricket team and wished the team every success for its upcoming tour of England.
The Governor further announced that Pakistan will continue to provide support to help the Vatican develop its cricket team and will arrange to send a leading Pakistani test cricketer to Rome to coach the team in October.
Governor Ishrat ul Ebad is a leading advocate in promoting interfaith harmony and dialogue in Pakistan. He himself is a cricketer and has proposed that a Tri-team Tournament be held in 2015 between Governor of Sindh’s XI, the Vatican XI and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI as a way of manifesting friendship and harmony through sport.
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