It’s being called a “holy war” with both World Cup finalists hoping for a divine intervention from Rome. But when Argentina and Germany face each other for the World Cup final, only one team will be blessed. Still, that hasn’t stopped World Cup enthusiasts from speculating about how Argentinian Pope Francis and retired German Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will be rooting on their home teams. One might envision the retired pope inviting the current pope around to his monastery inside Vatican City to watch the game over a stein of beer. But the Vatican says that is highly unlikely. On Thursday, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told The Daily Beast that he didn’t envision the two popes would be settling down to watch the final game together. “The game is late for Pope Francis,” he said, noting the 9pm Rome start time was edging up to the Holy Father’s bedtime. He also noted that “Pope Emeritus is notably not a big sports fan.”
Early on in the games, Francis vowed that he would not pray for Argentina to win, and would instead remain neutral. But when Argentina played Switzerland in the early phase of the tournament, he was quoted joking with his Swiss Guards that “this is war.” Even the Vatican Communications office got in on the fun tweeting a cartoon of an angry Pope Francis watching the game from behind two cheering Swiss guards.
Sunday's pope playoff is also going viral on Twitter with ample examples of how the two popes might be secretly praying against each other or how they might be trying to psych each other out as they watch.
Early on in the tournament, hardcore Argentina fans spoofed the Argentina roster listing Pope Francis as a team member. Ahead of the finals, more fans are doctoring photos of the two pontiffs wearing national team colored skullcaps.
Both popes have referred to sportsmanship as a conduit to holiness, but God only knows whether the two will be secretly praying for their home teams to win.