Photo: Claudio Villa (Getty Images)

The true identity of God has been a subject of much fascination and debate since the beginning of time. The Christian Bible contends that Jesus Christ is God. Old Dirty Bastard believed it was The Black Man. Others say God is actually Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi. Pope Francis, a man intimately familiar with both Messi and God as a compatriot of the former and a purported emissary of the latter, weighed in with his thoughts about Messi’s alleged godhood in a TV interview on a Spanish station on Sunday.

Spanish newspaper Marca has a translation of the conversation:

Jordi Evole: You know them both. Is it sacrilege to say the Messi is God?

Pope Francis: In theory, it is sacrilege. You can’t say it and I don’t believe it. Do you believe it?

Jordi Evole: I do.

Pope Francis: 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.

Jordi Evole: But he plays well doesn’t he?

Pope Francis: Of course, he is very good, but he isn’t God.

So there you have it: Lionel Messi is not in fact God, though it probably won’t run you afoul of the actual God to metaphorically assert Messi’s deity status. No word yet on ODB’s theory, though.