Photo courtesy of @IrshCathNews
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor
(CNN)– Will the World Cup finals become a Holy War?
At the very least, Sunday’s World Cup match could put millions of Catholics — not to mention Vatican employees — in a bit of a bind.
Will they root for Argentina, the homeland of Pope Francis, who is known to be an ardent soccer aficionado? Or will they back Germany, the native country of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, also a big football fan?
And what about the Big Referee Upstairs? Whose prayers will he heed when the game is on the line?
Germany reached the finals on Tuesday by blowing out Brazil, the host country. Argentina beat the Netherlands on Wednesday afternoon.
Of course, both Popes (not to mention God) have more important things on their minds. But the pontiffs, at least, have also said that sports can be more than fun and games.
“The sport of football can be a vehicle of education for the values of honesty, solidarity and fraternity, especially for the younger generation,” Benedict told Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper back in 2008.
His successor, Francis has echoed those remarks, and even promised not to pray for Argentina.
But a Catholic who met Pope Francis this week to discuss more serious matters said that the pontiff seemed to be secretly pulling for his home team.
“He absolutely wants for Argentina to win,” Peter Saunders, a victim of sexual abuse from England who met Francis on Monday, told the Boston Globe. “He didn’t say it out loud, but you could see it in his eyes, he’s a closet fan.”
It will be interesting to see what the Vatican says about the Argentina-Germany matchup. The men are known to be close, with Francis saying he and Benedict “are brothers.”
Maybe the “brothers” will put a little wager on the high-stakes soccer match, or maybe this just means that God has a really good sense of humor.
In any case, some folks are already having fun with the potential Pope vs. Pope match up.
If World Cup final is Germany and Argentina, then it’s Pope against Pope. Awaiting Benedict-Francis shootout.
— Mo Rocca (@MoRocca) July 9, 2014
Dreaming of a final World cup match between Germany and Argentina watched by Pope Francis + Pope Benedict Emeritus together #CatholicChurch — Dominican Sisters (@DomSrStJoseph) July 8, 2014
Not much of a World Cup fan but I want to see a Holy War (Pope Benedict XVI vs Pope Francis)
— Miguel Lizada (@mlizada) July 9, 2014
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