Matthew Perez

Pope Francis has Message of Peace, Friendship for Super Bowl LI

Pope Francis has a special message directed at those gearing up for Super Bowl LI.

As the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots prepare for their biggest game of the year, Pope Francis delivered a message of peace, friendship, and solidarity.

"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," he said.

The matchup in Houston is set to Kickoff at 6:30 p.m. ET Sunday on Fox.

"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 said in his video message. "May this year's Super Bowl be a sign of peace, friendship and solidarity for the world. Thank you!”

A Vatican spokesman says the message is expected to be played on the screen at NRG Stadium in Houston either before the game or during the first quarter.

Francis is an avid sports fan who often speaks of how sports can bring about social change. He has previously taken to Twitter for the Olympics and soccer's World Cup. This is his first Super Bowl message.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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