With Argentina and Germany advancing to the World Cup finals, one question has been on everyone's mind: will the two living popes, Francis and ex-Pope Benedict XVI, watch the match between their two hometown teams together on Sunday? According to the Vatican, no, they almost certainly will not. Sorry.
According to the Associated Press, spokesperson Rev. Federico Lombardi didn't entirely rule out the possibility, saying, “we’ll see in the coming days.” But, he added, the match will be past Francis's normal bedtime and Benedict might not be interested in spending a retirement evening waiting up for a soccer match.
Everyone knows about Francis's love for the sport — he's a huge supporter of Argentina's San Lorenzo team — but that shouldn't overshadow Benedict's own milder fondness for the beautiful game. Benedict, as it turns out, does reportedly support a team: Bayern Munich. During Benedict's papacy, he also spoke of the educational value in soccer: he praised the sport as a "vehicle of education for the values of honesty, solidarity and fraternity, especially for the younger generation."
In any case, Pope Francis probably has one very good reason for not watching the match: he promised to remain neutral for the duration of the World Cup. Possibly prompted by fears that the Argentinian might use his connections with God to sway the World Cup in favor of his team, the Pope said in an interview that "The Brazilians asked for neutrality" in his prayers for the games. Francis added, "I'll keep my word because Brazil and Argentina are always opponents."
Before the start of the tournament, Francis delivered a message hoping that the games would promote peace and friendship among different countries (via NBC):
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