Listen, get to know, ask

Listen, get to know, ask

Father Thomas Nonte © CBA

Since the 1. March of this year Dr. Thomas Nonte new sports chaplain of the German Bishops' Conference, colloquially known as sports or Olympic chaplain.

Thomas Nonte is the new Catholic sports pastor of the German Bishops' Conference. In the interview, Father Nonte talks about his tasks and his relationship to sports.

Interviewer: What does the German Catholic sports pastor actually do??

Thomas Nonte: That is a good question. I have only been in office for four weeks, and this task is completely new to me. I didn't know it before, I was asked about it a quarter of a year ago, I was in the USA and I was surprised myself. Insofar I let it come to me. For the first time, the bishop even gave me time to think about it. We had this on the phone 10.000 km apart discussed. And after two minutes it was clear to me: I'll do it.

Interviewer: Before that you taught at the University of California, at Berkeley, right?

Thomas Nonte: Something like this: I was a guest of the Jesuits, who have now become somewhat better known because of the new pope. I was at Jesuit University in San Francisco, which is based in Berkely. I was there to study, to teach, to exchange theology and ecclesiastical understanding. I spent a year and a half there.

Interviewer: What do you think makes you the right man for this position??

Thomas Nonte: I don't know about that, you'll have to ask the bishop.

Interviewer: Maybe that you are a Bayer Munich fan ..

Thomas Nonte: He didn't even know that. But my altar boys knew that, and of course they took it to the public. Yes, I am a fan of Bayern Munich, sports has always interested me, since childhood I have kicked, and since I study and also as a chaplain. Of course I'm a fan of the Bundesliga, and of course I'm a fan of a certain team, which I'm sure not everyone likes – I admit that ..

Interviewer: The next German champion ..

Thomas Nonte: They already have the chance to tie it up today, and I think many in the Bundesliga will say, yes, this time they deserve it. Last year in the USA I was sweating with a few Mexicans when we lost the Champions League. This time you may be lucky once more.

Interviewer: What are your plans for this new office, which you have only held for four weeks now??

Thomas Nonte: I intend to listen, to get to know people, to ask what their concerns and hopes are. I'm also looking forward to getting to know athletes, the clubs behind them, the whole team assistants. And I myself then offer myself in the best sense of the word as another assistant.

Interviewer: Athletes are your target group, professionals and amateurs alike, right??

Thomas Nonte: Of course! From competitive athletes to ordinary people who do sports at home. And you'd be surprised how many friends and members of my former counter teams are happy that I'm doing this now. And everyone wants to become an altar boy or a sexton or a priest. For many people, sport is a wonderful way to let off steam or admire others in addition to their everyday lives.

Interviewer: After all, sport is not just a light-hearted subject. Recently, headlines such as doping in cycling, z.B. Lance Armstrong's big confession. Or the increasing violence of soccer fans. In your role as sports pastor, you will also deal with these ies?
Thomas Nonte: Of course! If one may say that about other people in such a general way at all: these are, of course, manifest weaknesses of people, perhaps of systems, which encourage or expect such things. I have seen Erik Zabel as a patron of the junior cycling championship in the city where I used to be a pastor. And a year later he confessed that he had doped. In the view of his son he was then a bit on the sidelines and there was bad talk about him. And then I thought to myself, what happens to people who have fallen into such a trap, who have deceived themselves and others, and who try a new start. I was disappointed by Lance Armstrong, I practically took the news with me on the plane, it hit me hard. The man was so committed to the cancer foundation and now he has to admit such a lie. Doping is a big challenge, I think for everyone, for athletes, for coaches, for doctors, maybe also for the people who hype these athletes so much that they hardly have a chance to perform within their means. This is a service that I believe our church should be doing with our gospel.

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