A Super Bowl message from Pope Francis: But is he rooting for the Falcons or the Patriots?

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws during a practice for the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, in Houston. Atlanta will face the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl Sunday. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws during a practice for the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, in Houston. Atlanta will face the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl Sunday. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Pope Francis on Sunday reached out to all Americans watching this year’s Super Bowl reminding them that “great sporting events” like this one “are highly symbolic, showing that it is possible to build a culture of encounter and a world of peace.”

He told them that “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.” He concluded by praying that this year's Super Bowl “may be a sign of peace, friendship and solidarity for the world.”

These words, while not unusual for this pope, take on a special significance at a time when there is much tension and polarization in the United States, particularly on the question of migrants and relations with other countries.

Pope Francis prays that this year's Super Bowl “may be a sign of peace, friendship and solidarity for the world.”

A Vatican source said Francis was invited by the organizers of this year’s event to send a message to this year’s Super Bowl, which is being played in Houston, Tex. He gladly accepted to do so and recorded the video message that the Vatican released on Sunday in English, Spanish and Italian. The event draws one of the largest television audiences of the year.

“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. May this year's Super Bowl be a sign of peace, friendship and solidarity to the world.”

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