Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, says the ability of fellow Argentine Lionel Messi is praiseworthy, but he cautions against comparing the Barcelona star to “God”.
Millions of people consider the South American footballer to be a sporting deity, with his achievements raising the bar of individual excellence.
He is an object of worship around the world and has seen his record-breaking on-field efforts lead to him being showered with praises and major honours – both collective and individual.
Having won the Ballon d’Or for five times, Messi may seem non-human to some,but Pope Francis feels it is wrong to bestow labels of “God” onto those who are mere mortals.
The Pope was responding to questions by Spanish television show Salvados on La Sexta whether such a billing for Messi could be considered sacrilegious, as it breaks the third commandment by using the Lord’s name in vain, Pope Francis said, “In theory, it’s a sacrilege.
“You can’t say it and I don’t believe it. I think people say ‘he is God’ just as they say ‘I adore you’. You have to adore only God,” Pope Francis said.
“It’s expressions that people use. This is a god with the ball on the pitch. It’s a popular way that people have of expressing themselves.
“Of course, it is a joy (to watch Messi play). But he is not God.”