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Oct 22, 2013 8:47 AM by AP/CS

Vatican fields cricket club as sport, faith merge

VATICAN CITY (AP) - The Vatican has officially launched its cricket club, an initiative aimed at forging ties with teams of other faiths.

Pope Francis marked the occasion by having tea and cucumber sandwiches served for a sport long associated with manicured grounds and English nobility. But the soccer-mad "slum pope" still prefers that lower-brow sport.

He and the Vatican have long championed sports as good for the mind, body and soul. The cricket club is the latest initiative of the Vatican's culture ministry to use sports to engage in dialogue with the contemporary world.

Australia's ambassador to the Holy See, John McCarthy, said at Tuesday's launch that he hopes the St. Peter's Cricket Club will field a team to play the Church of England at Lord's sometime next fall.

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