Maradona Argued with John Paul II, Praised Francis

Francis prayed for the late Argentinean soccer player Diego Maradona, the Vatican said. called him a “soccer’s poet.”

For La Plata Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández, Maradona was “a son of the people” who never lost the popular faith which his mother transmitted to him, “That’s why he often made the sign of the cross, asked Our Lady for help, spoke unashamedly about God.”

Cuban leader Fidel Castro (+2016) called him “a great friend.” Maradona had Castro tattooed on his leg and Che Guevara on his arm. He also supported the late Venezuelan President Chávez.

Maradona opposed American imperialism, called George W. Bush's “human garbage,” and protested against him with a “STOP BUSH” sign that replaced the “s” in “Bush” with a swastika.

On Venezuelan TV, Maradona said, “I hate everything that comes from the United States. I hate it with all my strength."

During a 1987 audience with John Paul II, he argued that the Vatican should sell its “golden ceilings” to help poor children.

In September 2014, Maradona met Francis for the first time, crediting him for his return to religion after many years, "We should all imitate Pope Francis.” Maradona died on the same day as Fidel Castro.

A soccer player's profession does not grant him any special importance or credentials when discussing the Catholic Faith.