VATICAN CITY (AP) – The Vatican says it is unlikely that Pope Francis and his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, would get together to watch their home teams in the World Cup final on Sunday.
Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Thursday that the hour of the final is late for Francis' routine, and acknowledged with a chuckle that Benedict wasn't known as an avid sports fan. Still, he didn't rule anything out, saying, "we'll see in the coming days."
Pope Francis has already given his word that there would be no papal intervention in Argentina's fortunes, promising he wouldn't pray for any team. German-born Benedict's interests are known to lean more toward intellectual than athletic pursuits.
Lombardi said "both would want the better team to win, without taking sides."
Pope Francis, formerly Jorge Mario Bergoglio, is a lifelong fan of the Saints of San Lorenzo team, and has been a club member since 2008.
Back in December, Francis celebrated his beloved San Lorenzo's victory in the Argentine soccer first division's first-half tournament, congratulating team members, reminiscing about going to the stadium as a child and hoisting up the Torneo Inicial trophy in St. Peter's Square for all to see.
The team draws its name from a priest, Lorenzo Massa, who, in the early 1900s, offered to let a group of kids use church grounds to play on instead of the streets of Buenos Aires. Bergoglio grew up in the Flores neighborhood of the Argentine capital near the stadium and formed a bond with the team.