Maybe everyone else knows this, but until I moved to Brazil, I had no idea about the fierce rivalry that exists between Brazil and Argentina. Now, I think it’s mostly all in good fun, fueled by competitiveness on the soccer field (who was better: Pelé or Maradona?), but it exists nonetheless. So I really shouldn’t have been so surprised by my Brazilian friends’ reactions to the new Pope…
On the days leading up to the naming of the new Pope, Michael and I were glued to the coverage. So much pomp & circumstance, secrecy & ritual. It’s amazing. And we were extra excited since one of São Paulo’s cardinals was said to be a top contendor for the spot. Although in the end it wasn’t a Brazilian who was named the new Pope, it was still very exciting to have someone from the Americas – especially Latin America! As the country that houses the world’s largest Catholic population (about 75% of Brazilians are Catholic), I thought that Brazil would be thrilled. And I think that by now they are more excited about our Argentine Pope, but that was not the initial reaction.
Michael and I spoke to around 10 Brazilians about the new Pope on the day that the announcement was made, and every single Brazilian male made some comment about how this would just fuel Argentina’s pride and make them think that they were divinely inspired to win the World Cup. Ha!
Thankfully, Brazilians have warmed up to Pope Francis, as his first international trip will be to Brazil for World Youth Day! At the end of the day, no matter where he’s from, even the Pope knows that Brazil is the place to be.