Bolivia’s President Evo Morales drew a rebuke from Pope Francis when he presented the Pontiff with a crucifix mounted on a hammer and sickle.
“That’s not right,” the Pope said when he saw the crucifix combined with the symbol of Communism. The incident occurred during the traditional exchange of gifts as the Pope paid a courtesy call on the Bolivian leader.
Morales—who has a penchant for mixing Communist ideology and pagan rituals with Catholic symbols—has had a tense relationship with the Church since becoming president of Bolivia in 2006. He once referred to the Church as his “main enemy.”
Pope Francis appeared to be taken aback by the unusual gift. Bolivian officials explained that it was a replica of a crucifix made by Father Luis Espinal, a Jesuit human-rights activist who was killed in 1980. The Pope had paused to pray at the site of the priest’s death before arriving at the presidential palace.