Sitting alongside football stars such as Ronaldinho and Bryan Ruiz, Pope Francis has announced that a second edition of his 2014 interreligious match for peace will take place in May, reports the Catholic News Agency.
“I invite you all to the Match for Peace. It will be here in Rome on May 29,” the Pope said last week at an event organised by the Pontifical Foundation Scholas Occurrentes.
The football match is aimed at demonstrating “that we are capable of making peace with a game, with art,” he said, adding that he’s doing it “as a service.”
“One of the definitions of the Pope is to be the servant of the servants of God. That is why I am here, that is why I agreed to come,” Pope Francis said, explaining that the intent of the game is not proselytisation, but the good of the human person.
The first match for peace took place on September 1, 2014, at Rome’s Olympic Stadium, and was organised by retired Catholic football star Javier “Pupi” Zanetti, who was captain of the Argentine national team and of Inter Milan in Italy.
Zanetti, who had formed a close relationship with the Pope while he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, pitched him the idea of organising a sports event that brought together members of different religions.
Pope Francis backed the idea, and asked Zanetti to organise the match alongside the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences.
In addition to Zanetti, other well-known players who participated in the match were Maradona, Alessandro del Piero, Gianluiggi Buffon and Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o.
Photo: Ronaldinho, José María del Corral, Pope Francis, Enrique Palmeyro, and Bryan Ruiz announce the Match for Peace at a Vatican press conference on February 3 (CNA)