Pope Francis Invokes Blessings on Super Bowl LI

The Associated Press
AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Pope Francis has become the first pope in history to bless America’s premier sporting event, sending a video message with his benediction to participants and viewers of Super Bowl LI.

“May the Super Bowl this year be a sign of peace, friendship and solidarity to the world,” Francis said in his native Spanish, in a video message released on Super Bowl Sunday.

Sunday’s contest between New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons, held in Houston, Texas, at 6:30pm Eastern Time, is one of the most watched television event of the year, popular not only in the United States but around the world.

“Major sporting events like the Super Bowl are highly symbolic and show that it is possible to build a culture of encounter and a world of peace,” the Pope said in his message. “Taking part in sports activities makes us go beyond self-interest and in a healthy way to learn the meaning of sacrifice and grow in respect and respect for the rules.”

This is the first time a pontiff has ever blessed the football match-up, signaling his esteem for athletics and their importance for forming key human virtues. A self-proclaimed soccer lover, Francis has often invoked sports as an apt place to learn virtue and practice fraternity.

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