Diverse groups from around the world were present at this morning’s general audience, but one – the Pope’s favorite soccer team – received a greeting from the pontiff that no one else did.
As he moved through the list of those present at the April 10 assembly, he came to the only delegation from his homeland and said, “Ah, this is very important!”
That group was made up of representatives from the Saint Lawrence Athletic Club, based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They made Pope Francis a member in 2008, and after his election as Pope sent him congratulations, along with a new team jersey.
In response, Pope Francis sent a letter on March 20 to the club’s president, telling him, “I really appreciate this token of appreciation, which I am happy to respond to, asking our Lord to generously repay this delicacy.”
“Aside from the love of football, I ask you to cultivate friendship with Jesus, the true friend, he will always be with you, in good times and also when there are difficulties,” the Pope wrote.
At today’s audience, Pope Francis also spoke at length in Spanish for the first time, giving the summary of his Italian-language catechesis in his native tongue and greeting the various groups from Latin American and Spain.
Also present at the gathering were English-speaking pilgrims from the NATO Defense College and the Germany-based Wounded Warrior Project for U.S. servicemen. The Pope offered “prayerful good wishes” to students at the college, “that their service to international peace and cooperation be always fruitful.”