Being an international soccer fan was a lot easier back when Pope Francis was known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, no one blinked an eye when Bergoglio, long an ardent supporter of San Lorenzo, pulled for the Argentina side in the World Cup. In fact, it was rather expected.
But now that he's serving as God's conduit to 1.2 billion Catholics on this mortal coil? Well, things have become a bit more tricky. He can't show a preference for one side or another, not when rival Brazil is hosting the world for the tournament and especially not when he's surrounded by Azzurri supporters while serving in Vatican City. So, what to do?
The only thing a man who goes by His Holiness can do. Pope Francis has pledged not to root for any one country over the next month, news that may disappoint Argentinian soccer fans who are looking for their first World Cup victory since 1986 (back when the Pope was still just a priest).
Francis recalled during an interview published Friday with the Barcelona newspaper ''La Vanguardia,'' that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff had asked him during a February visit to the Vatican to at least be neutral during the competition.
Laughing, Francis said: ''The Brazilians asked for neutrality. I'll keep my word because Brazil and Argentina are always opponents.''
But what if Argentina ends up meeting, say, Spain? Well, Pope Francis probably won't cry for Argentina then, either. As Acts 10:34-35 says: "So Peter opened his mouth and said: 'Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.'"
Pope Francis' World Cup stance shows that applies everywhere, apparently.
Even on the international soccer pitch.
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