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Pope Francis Stopped Watching TV In The 90s, Deciding It Was 'Not For Me', In Vow To Virgin Mary

26/05/2015 13:01 BST | Updated 27/05/2015 16:59 BST

If you needed another reason to like Pope Francis, this is a good one - he doesn't watch TV.

And that's not because the pontiff is a web-wizard on the Vatican wifi - streaming all the best shows well before we see them - he doesn't surf the net either.

Nor is it a stand against the obesity epidemic. The Pope, it seems, was never at risk of becoming a couch potato. He had a higher calling, and it wasn't Big Brother.

pope francis

Pope Francis, seen above at the Pentecost Celebration at the St. Peter's Basilica on May 24, n Vatican City, has not watched television since 1990

For almost a quarter of a century now the Pope hasn't watched TV. On July 15, 1990, the Pope claims he promised the Virgin Mary he wouldn't flick on the small screen ever again, thus missing out on a cultural phenomenon that has stupefied us so much we now think a TV program about people watching TV programmes - Googlebox - is must-see viewing.

He told La Voz del Pueblo: 'I have not watched TV since 1990. It's a promise that I made the Virgin of Carmen on the night of 15 July 1990. I told myself: 'It's not for me'.

While you could argue the Pope's lack of LCD screens in the in vice-free Vatican is no biggie in the scheme of things - his dry January, for instance, lasts a lifetime - like many, he is a football fan, but not even that has him reaching for the remote.

An avid fan of San Lorenzo de Almagro since his time in Buenos Aires, the pontiff now keeps up with play via personal updates from a Swiss Guard.

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What Pope Francis missed

He said: “There is a Swiss Guard that every week tells me the results and how we are doing in the league table."

The Pope's only conscious following of the outside world is a quick 10 minute scan of Italy's La Repubblica newspaper each day.

So he probably doesn't know who Carrie Bradshaw is, and that she likes Manolo Blahniks, and a guy called Mr Big. Or of the trouble her gal-pals, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte, have in love and life. And about all the sex they've all been having in New York City. Or about Joey, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe and Monica, and how they like to get coffee at Central Perk.

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For the last time the Pope kicked his feet up to watch the box, Sylvester McCoy was Doctor Who and Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister. Brandon and Brenda Walsh hadn't even moved to Beverly Hills 90210 yet - that happened three months later in October 1990.

The 1990s was a big year for the small screen. Twin Peaks, Keeping up Appearances and Stars in Their Eyes were born. Friends was still four years away. Sex and the City eight; as was Dawson's Creek, though it's unlikely the Pope would have been as taken with Joey Potter as Dawson Leery was.

But the pope could have caught the first seasons of The Simpsons and Seinfeld. They first aired in 1989.

However, like the rest of us, it seems the pope is struggling to maintain a good work-life balance, so perhaps there simply was no room for telly-time. He told the newspaper he had a heavy workload: “I am under pressure. All those in government are under pressure.

“At the moment I feel the workload. I have a strong pace of work at the moment – it's the end of the school year syndrome with the focus on getting everything done before the end of June. There are a thousand things to be done and there are problems.”

Recalling his pre-pontiff days, the pope said what he missed most was the freedom to walk the streets of Buenos Aires - and just like a common Joe, a slice of pizza: “Take-away is not the same. The nice thing is to go to there, to the pizzeria.”