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Vatican calls for global ceasefire during World Cup final

The Vatican on Friday called for a truce in wars around the globe during Sunday's World Cup final, taking to social media with the hashtag #pauseforpeace as a conflict in the Gaza Strip escalates and killings continue in Ukraine.

VATICAN CITY: The Vatican on Friday called for a truce in wars around the globe during Sunday's World Cup final, taking to social media with the hashtag #pauseforpeace as a conflict in the Gaza Strip escalates and killings continue in Ukraine.

"Adherents are asking for a moment of silence around the Sunday, July 13 match to remember those stricken by wars and unrest worldwide," the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture said in a statement.

The statement said that some people were asking for a moment of silence at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro itself, although there has been no official announcement on this from FIFA.

"A still, small voice of silence," Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the Vatican's culture minister, said in a statement.

Melchor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said: "Sports were born around religious festivities. Sporting events were moments of peace, when wars ceased, as for the Olympic truce."

The tradition of calling for an Olympic truce lasting so that athletes and spectators can travel to the Games dates back to the 9th century BC, and the International Olympic Committee has continued the custom and promotes peace initiatives around the world.

"Why not for the World Cup, why not a pause, a moment of silence, a truce for peace?" he said.

The face-off in Rio will be between football-mad Pope Francis's native Argentina and Germany -- the homeland of his predecessor Benedict XVI.

The Vatican has played down the prospect of the two popes settling down to watch the match -- Benedict XVI is known more for his love of theology and piano music -- but has said Francis might follow it.

A Vatican source on Friday said he "excluded categorically" the prospect of pope emeritus Benedict XVI watching the final.

"It's really not his thing, he is not a fan.

"It would be like inflicting an infinite penitence on him at the age of 87," the source said, adding: "He has never been able to watch a football match from beginning to end in his life".

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