Game of 2 popes: Vatican plays down World Cup rivalry

Game of 2 popes: Vatican plays down World Cup rivalry

THE POPE:Pope Francis waves during his Sunday Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican on July 6. Photo: Reuters/Tony Gentile

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – With Argentina meeting Germany in the World Cup final, the Vatican on Friday brushed aside talk of soccer rivalry between Argentine Pope Francis and his predecessor Benedict, a German.

In response to the intense media speculation about whether they would watch the game together, which it called “amusing,” the Vatican called on soccer fans to observe a “pause for peace” before Sunday’s final to remember victims of war and poverty.

A senior Vatican official who works with both Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict told Reuters that no decision had been taken yet on how each of the two would spend Sunday night.

Benedict, the source pointed out, is not a soccer fan, but added: “Let’s see. The current situation is unique”.

The Vatican’s spokesman said he did not believe Benedict, now 87 and living his retirement in seclusion in an ex-convent in the Vatican, would watch the match, because of the late hour

Francis, the Latin American pope, is most definitely a soccer fan.

As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he was a keen supporter of the San Lorenzo soccer club. He is an honorary member of the club nicknamed the Saints of Boedo for the neighborhood where they were founded by a group of young men that included a priest in 1908.

The Vatican’s Council for Culture which has sports as part of its brief, called the pre-match speculation “amusing and entertaining” but said it was calling for a moment of silence on Sunday for “thinking about important things” such as peace.

“Let’s have a pause for peace,” said Monsignor Melcher Sanchez de Tosca y Alameda, the council’s undersecretary, announcing a social media hashtag #PAUSEforPeace.

Sanchez referred to the tradition in ancient Greece to stop all conflicts during the Olympic games.

“Why not for the World Cup? Why not a pause, a moment of silence, a truce for peace?” he said.

A spokesman for the council said it would be up to each fan, each team and each organization, including soccer governing body FIFA, if, how and when they wanted to observe a moment of “silence or reflection or pause” to remember those suffering.

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Recent Headlines

in Sports

Kobe Bryant says he will retire at end of 2015-16 season

Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, left, talks with head coach Byron Scott, right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Dec. 12, 2014, in San Antonio. Los Angeles won 112-110.

The 37-year-old Bryant made the announcement in a post on The Players' Tribune on Sunday

in Sports

Heat check: College coaching carousel turns into roller coaster

LSU head coach Les Miles watches from the sideline in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Florida in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013. LSU won 17-6.

This coaching carousel is more like a roller coaster and this weekend there was enough action to make those trying to keep up dizzy.

in Sports

The latest from the NFL

NFL logo on the field before an NFL football game between the Detroit Lions and the New England Patriots in Detroit, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013.

The latest from NFL games around the league on the 12th Sunday of the season.

in Sports

AP Top 25: Oklahoma up to No. 3, Clemson-Alabama still 1-2


Oklahoma moved up to No. 3 behind Clemson and Alabama and the Big Ten placed three teams in the top…

in Sports

Tyson Fury ends Wladimir Klitschko’s heavyweight reign


Fury took Klitschko's WBA, IBF, and WBO heavyweight belts, as well as the minor IBO title, and attention turned immediately to a potential rematch.

Bellingham Traffic