Bolivian President Evo Morales gave Pope Francis a crucifix fashioned in the form of a Communist hammer-and-sickle during Francis' stop there. The Argentinian pope is on his first trip to South America since assuming the papacy, and did not appear pleased, murmuring "no está bien eso" and shaking his head.
You can watch the gift exchange below:
The Vatican tried to distance the pope from his objection. The hammer-and-sickle crucifix was a replica of one created by a Spanish Jesuit killed by the Bolivian government in 1980. The Catholic News Agency reports:
At a July 9 press briefing the Holy See press officer, Fr. Federico Lombardi, noted the lack of clarity in the audio of the exchange, and remarked that Pope Francis had been unaware the crucifix was a replica of Fr. Espinal's.
He also claimed that Fr. Espinal's use of it was not ideological but expressed a hope for dialogue between communism and the Church, adding that Pope Francis' remark likely expresed a sentiment of "I didnt' know", rather than "This is not right."
Other Catholics ween't as accommodating:
Catholics from various Hispanophone countries rejected Morales' gesture, considering it offensive to the numerous victims of terrorist groups in Latin America and of the historical totalitarian communist regimes.
Bishop Jose Munilla Aguirre of San Sebastián, a Spaniard, tweeted: "The height of arrogance is to manipulate God in the service of atheistic ideologies … Today, once again: #ChristCrucified".
Around the world, the left's become excited about the pope's latest encyclical, specifically and exclusively portions about climate change and environmental stewardship. The pope curried that kind of selective support by tapping anti-capitalist Naomi Klein for upcoming climate talks. But, as A. Barton Hinkle wrote earlier this week, the left's embrace of religious justification for public policy only applies when it leads to bigger government.