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Pope Francis Says Barcelona's Lionel Messi 'Is Very Good, but He Isn't God'

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistApril 1, 2019

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 30: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrate goal during the La Liga Santander  match between FC Barcelona v Espanyol at the Camp Nou on March 30, 2019 in Barcelona Spain (Photo by Jeroen Meuwsen/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Such is Lionel Messi's extraordinary talent with a football that it's common to question whether he's human at all, but Pope Francis has had his say on whether the Barcelona talisman is a divine being.

Asked by La Sexta's Jordi Evole (h/t Marca) if it's sacrilegious to describe Messi as God, the Pope said: "In theory, it is sacrilege. You can't say it, and I don't believe it. Do you believe it?"

When Evole replied "I do," Pope Francis responded: "I don't [laughs]. People can say he is God, just as they may say 'I adore you,' but only God can be worshipped. Those are expressions from people. 'This is a God with the ball on the field' is a popular way for someone to express themselves."

On his compatriot, he added, "Of course, he is very good, but he isn't God."

B/R Football @brfootball

The Pope on Lionel Messi https://t.co/boflhDVZQj

Evole's TV programme, Salvados, shared the exchange between the pair on Twitter:

Salvados @salvadostv

LlegΓ³ el momento de hablar de D10S. #SalvadosPapa https://t.co/08YI1zMtEO

Messi has worked some miracles at Barcelona over the years, and on Saturday he had supporters marvelling once again when he netted a brace against Espanyol in the Catalan derby.

He broke the deadlock with a Panenka free-kick before finishing off a counter-attack late on.

His efforts saw him reach new landmarks in his illustrious career:

FC Barcelona @FCBarcelona

πŸ”πŸ‘ Leo #Messi reaches 40 goals for the 10th season in a row! πŸ‘ 2009/10 βœ… 2010/11 βœ… 2011/12 βœ… 2012/13 βœ… 2013/14 βœ… 2014/15 βœ… 2015/16 βœ… 2016/17 βœ… 2017/18 βœ… 2018/19 βœ… https://t.co/BbKKnEQ7bJ

B/R Football @brfootball

Lionel Messi records his 334th career league winβ€”he ties Iker Casillas and Andoni Zubizarreta for most in La Liga πŸ‘‘ https://t.co/dbZoxfuuKG

As they so often do, the forward's performance set social media alight:

Andy West @andywest01

Anyone else think Messi doing something amazing every time he plays is getting kind of boring? No, me neither.

Daniel Edwards πŸ’š @DanEdwardsGoal

A Panenka free-kick and a 60m one-two. Messi plays a different sport to the rest of us.

Leander Schaerlaeckens @LeanderAlphabet

I always have a hard time explaining to young and new fans how insane Lionel Messi's goal numbers are. It used to be that 20 goals made for a really good season, probably a career year. In that sense, Messi is to goals what Babe Ruth was to homeruns. https://t.co/mxKVF8Hmwh

God or not, he's the main man at the Camp Nou, and it's in no small part down to him that Barcelona hold a 10-point lead in La Liga with nine matches remaining.

The Blaugrana will hope he can also deliver his fifth UEFA Champions League title this season, all the more so after witnessing rivals Real Madrid win the tournament in each of the last three years.

He's scored 22 goals against English sides over the years, so things bode well for Barca's upcoming quarter-final against Manchester United.

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