The pope had a message for soccer kids in Miami. And it was about the World Cup

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The pope appeared in Miami. But not in the flesh.

From the Vatican, Pope Francis conducted a live simulcast at the spanking new Telemundo Center in Doral for an upcoming network special called “El Papa con los jóvenes latinos.”

The premise of the show, hosted by Noticias Telemundo’s Miguel Gerwitz in Miami and Vanessa Hauc in Rome, is a cause near and dear to the 81-year-old Argentine pope: Scholas Occurrentes, an education initiative Jorge Mario Bergoglio founded as Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 2001.

“Scholas is an international organization of public good profit driven by Pope Francisco that works with schools and educational communities both public and private, of all religious and secular confessions to restore the educational pact,” according to the Scholas’ website.

In June 2016, NBCUniversal/Telemundo Enterprises signed an agreement with SO “to educate, inspire and connect youths through technology, the arts and sports,” said Telemundo spokesman Camilo Pino.

Included in Friday’s discussion were young people from Mozambique, Argentina, Colombia and, Mexico.

Representing the United States were two groups of local go-getters, who stood on a podium in the center’s lobby while watching and interacting with the pontiff on a large monitor: SoFlo Harmony from Miami Arts Studio at Zelda Glazer school and the Miami Shores Soccer Club U11 girls soccer team, which recently won the Florida Youth Soccer Association (FYSA) 2018 Commissioner’s Cup division 2 in Auburndale, Florida.

Lucia “Lulu” Arcila and Lucia Lecour were chosen as the soccer team’s ambassadors (their Spanish is spot-on).

“I was a little nervous to speak to him, but then not so much,” said Lulu, the team captain, who asked the lifelong soccer fan which team he thought might win the World Cup in Russia this summer.

After a brief pause, there was no response. Then, to laughs, he said: “I am glad you didn’t ask me who I will be praying to lose.”

Also in attendance: Boxing champ Julio César Chávez; artists Romero Britto, Domingo Zapata and Denis De la Rue; Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez; and Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

“I’m so proud and honored to be able to speak to you today and be in your presence,” Gimenez said. “Recognizing young people in society is of utmost importance.”

Carvalho echoed the mayor’s sentiments.

“It is a pleasure and honor to speak to you as you speak with the youths of our country and the world,” said the public schools chief. “I want to thank you for your leadership, which you started in Argentina and continue on a global level. I also want to tell you I appreciate your support. You are an inspiration to young people everywhere. I want to thank you for your powerful voice, speaking for the poor, the rich, the immigrants, the refugees of our country. It’s such a strong voice.”

The pope imparted some key advice to the audience.

“Always strive to do more, dream big,” Pope Francis said. “And always tell the truth.”

The show airs 5 p.m. May 20 on Telemundo.

If you want to learn more about Pope Francis, Wim Wenders’ new documentary, Pope Francis: A Man of His Word, is in theaters Friday. The film covers the pacifist’s concern for the poor and wealth inequality, as well as his involvement in environmental and social issues.


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