Not to be outdone by Lady Gaga’s halftime act or any number of clever Super Bowl commercials, Pope Francis sent out video message that he recorded just for the occasion. Speaking in Spanish, the head of the Catholic church expressed hope that the spirit of the sporting event could herald peace.
“Great sporting events like today’s Super Bowl are highly symbolic showing that it is possible to build a culture of encounter and a world of peace,” Pope Francis said. “Culture of Encounter” is a phrase coined by the Pope to encourage people to form connections with others, particularly those whom they might not have ever interacted with, in order to get closer to God.
“By participating in sport, we are able to go beyond our own self-interest, and in a healthy way, we learn to sacrifice, to grow in fidelity, and respect the rules,” the pontiff continued. “May this year’s Super Bowl be a sign of peace, friendship, and solidarity to the world. Thank you!”
The video also showed flyover footage of Houston, Texas and a frontal shot of the city’s NRG Stadium which housed Super Bowl LI.
Last year, Pope Francis praised sports and athleticism as “a human activity of great value, able to enrich people’s lives,” and announced that the Catholic church would be seeking to create a “new movement” in sports that would unite fans across the globe.