World

Popes mum on eve of World Cup final

In this july 5, 2013 photo provided by the Vatican newspaper “L'Osservatore Romano”, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, left, is welcomed by Pope Francis during a ceremony at the Vatican. The Vatican has cast doubt on the possibility that Argentine Pope Francis and his predecessor, German Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, would get together to watch their home teams in the World Cup final on Sunday.

In this july 5, 2013 photo provided by the Vatican newspaper “L'Osservatore Romano”, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, left, is welcomed by Pope Francis during a ceremony at the Vatican. The Vatican has cast doubt on the possibility that Argentine Pope Francis and his predecessor, German Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, would get together to watch their home teams in the World Cup final on Sunday.  

World Cup final between Argentina and Germany may strain relations between popes Francis and Benedict in the Vatican.

The unprecedented cohabitation of two Popes in the Vatican has been characterised by tact and mutual respect. But the question is whether the cordial relations between Popes Francis and Benedict can really survive a World Cup final between Argentina and Germany, their respective countries of birth.

While no one is expecting an outbreak of chanting between the two papal camps, surely there might just be a little frisson of rivalry? “Popes are superior beings,” Vatican’s spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said. “They always say the best [side] should win.”

Father Lombardi conceded that he expected Francis to “at least inform himself of the result”. Yet it seems more than likely that, come Sunday night, the Argentine pope will be glued to the old-fashioned cathode ray TV that a recent visitor glimpsed in his modest quarters in the Vatican’s guesthouse, the Casa Santa Marta.

A card-carrying member of the Argentine Primera Division club, San Lorenzo de Almagro, the pope is described on the club’s website as an ardent fan. He granted one of his earliest private audiences to the players and officials. And the club has published a letter to its chairman in which Pope Francis reminisced about following the side as a boy through the “glorious” 1946 season when they won their third title. “What a goal from Pontoni!” he exclaimed.

Such spontaneous enthusiasm is not exactly the hallmark of his shy, intellectual predecessor. Father Lombardi said he thought it unlikely the German pope emeritus would watch the final. But the author of such works as Das Problem der Dogmengeschichte in der Sicht der katholischen Theologie is said to favour Bayern Munich. And several Bayern players, including Neuer, Boateng, Lahm, Schweinsteiger and Muller, are likely to play.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2014

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 6:23:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/popes-mum-on-eve-of-world-cup-final/article6201832.ece

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