When the black smoke changed to white, I waited for nearly 45 minutes to see who would emerge from behind the curtain. In that time, I made last minute declarations of my hopes and fears for Benedict's successor. The predictions of trusted co-workers and even "the line" in Vegas filled my head as my heart beat anxiously to learn who was named the new leader of the Catholic Church. The Holy See.
My colleague ran into the room declaring, "It's the Jesuit! The Argentine Bishop!" She said his name with a beautiful Italian accent as I rolled my eyes. Teaching at St. Ignatius, we are just a bit a Jesuit-centric. The word "catholic" means "universal"—the Church is so much larger than one religious community. But I digress. After her pronouncement the room went silent, for that is all we knew of the 265th predecessor of the apostle St. Peter.
As the world awaited to know just Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio? What name he would choose as il Papa? Is he conservative or progressive? I wanted to know one thing--is he a sports fan?
It's true, my concerns were about something much lower. Although important, I was not as interested in his education (According to the Vatican’s website, he holds a degree as a chemical technician, but then chose the priesthood and entered the seminary of Villa Devoto. On 11 March 1958 he moved to the novitiate in Chile where he finished studies in the humanities. In 1963, on returning to Buenos Aires, he obtained a degree in philosophy at the St. Joseph major seminary where he also obtained a degree in theology. In March of 1986 he went to Germany to finish his doctoral thesis) or how many languages he speaks (he is proficient in five) as whether or not he's an athlete. Does he have a favorite sport or team? How does he recreate?
Fortunately, I found an answer! Cubs fans--you have found a kindred spirit! a sympathetic soul. Not only does he stand in solidarity with common folk (he takes the bus to the tribunal, he lives in a humble residence rather than the Archbishop's mansion and cooks his own meals) he knows what it's like to suffer because of a sports loyalty. How so? He supports the San Lorenzo soccer club.
According to a Yahoo! news report,
"He says he lives in a permanent state of suffering for San Lorenzo," said Oscar Lucchini, an architect and fellow fan who handed Bergoglio's membership card to him after that mass about four years ago.
The Buenos Aires club wasted no time in promoting that fact via their Twitter account, sharing an undated picture of Pope Francis holding up the San Lorenzo crest and a scan of his club membership card (both below), which shows that he's been a member since 2008. San Lorenzo also count actor Viggo Mortensen among their biggest supporters. Yes, the High King of the Reunited Kingdom.
Pope Francis being a San Lorenzo fan is perhaps fitting. The club was named after local priest Father Lorenzo Massa, who let children play football in his church's yard so they wouldn't have to do it amongst the dangerous trams in the street. San Lorenzo are currently in 12th place in the Argentine Primera Division, but now that they have the papacy on their side, they will probably expect to start rising up the table any minute now.
Knowing a person's passions makes them relatable. It speaks to their humanity. Although I believe some dimensions of the Pope's role as the leader of the Catholic Church are truly supernatural and appropriately guided by the hand of God, other tasks, decisions and duties are totally natural. To love a team, a sport, or an athlete only reaffirms that Pope Francis whose greatest loyalty is the Divine is but one of us.
Viva il Papa! Viva Francesco! Pace e Bene. AMDG.
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