Just in time for the Pats and Falcons to square off, Pope Francis has offered a greeting to fans and players for Super Bowl LI. Despite the fact he’s a soccer fan, thus proving the Pope really can cross even the most fraught divides on the planet. Except for those guys who insist on calling it “handegg,” because those guys really have it coming.
Joking aside, Francis sees the Super Bowl as an opportunity for the world to come together in “a sign of peace, friendship and solidarity to the world” in a greeting that was recorded to be shown in the stadium before kickoff. It also marks a rare moment where the Holy See chooses to get involved in American football.
Great sporting events like today’s Super Bowl are highly symbolic, showing that it is possible to build a culture of encounter and a world of peace. By participating in sports, we are able to go beyond our own self-interest and – in a healthy way – we learn to sacrifice, to grow in fidelity and respect the rules.
In other words, the Pope is either one of the most generous and open-minded people on the planet, or Tom Brady just got burned hard by the Holy Father. The Pope doesn’t pick a side between the Falcons and the Pats, presumably to stay neutral and out of matters of taste. And also because the last time a Pope blessed a team, it didn’t go well.