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Pope Francis hustles the Foosball table after general audience

J-P Mauro - published on 08/20/21

The pope played a game of Foosball after discussing St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians at his weekly audience.

Pope Francis had a rare opportunity to flex his athletic side at the end of his August 18 General Audience. After being presented with a Foosball table, the 84-year-old pontiff took a moment to play a round. His opponent was Natale Tonini, president of Sport Toscana Calcio Balilla association, who was present to confer the gift. 

Metro reports that Pope Francis won the game, although they neglected to cite the score. The gift from the Tuscany Table Football Association was of regulation size and standards. Pope Francis has long hailed the full-sized sport, soccer (or football depending on where you play it), as a good way to promote unity and inclusion. 

Mayor Sara D’Ambrosio of Altopascio, the Tuscan town where the association is based, mirrored Pope Francis’ sentiments, albeit for Foosball rather than soccer. She noted that Foosball is designed to be inclusive and encourage people with disabilities to participate in the sport. Pope Francis, a life-long soccer fan and a man with only one lung, seemed to agree as he played while sporting a grin. 

The audience

Prior to the big game, Pope Francis continued his explanation of St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. The pope focused on St. Paul’s understanding of the role of Law in Christian life. He noted that to St. Paul, the Law acts as a pedagogue, or a teacher. The Law makes us aware of what it means to transgress and allows us to realize our own sin. 

In St. Paul’s time, the Law had a “restrictive quality,” but it also worked to support and protect the people of Israel. Pope Francis said that, “[the Law] had educated them, disciplined them, and supported them in their weakness.”

According to Vatican News, Pope Francis said that the modern law must be “considered carefully” lest it gives way to “misunderstandings and false steps.” He continued: 

“It is good for us to ask ourselves if we still live in the period in which we need the Law, or if, instead, we are fully aware of having received the grace of becoming children of God so as to live in love.”

It is a good question, he said, and added a second: “Do I despise the Commandments?” He also gave an answer: “No. I observe them, but not as absolutes, because I know that it is Jesus Christ who justifies me.”

Read more from Pope Francis on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians at Vatican News.

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