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Pope rebukes Bolivian President Morales for hammer-and-sickle crucifix

July 09, 2015

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.


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  • Posted by: garedawg - Jul. 09, 2015 1:56 PM ET USA

    As my teenagers would say: "Awkward!"

  • Posted by: bruno.cicconi7491 - Jul. 09, 2015 1:08 PM ET USA

    I thought about myself in the Pope's place. I think I have a weaker personality so I would possibly just smile in his place, as much as this bothered me inside. But the Pope, he is not a pleaser, take note.

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Jul. 09, 2015 11:21 AM ET USA

    Reality Check of who you are dealing with and who some of these liberation theologists were/are, Pope Francis. Good for him saying "that's not right." In the video Pope Francis looks really downcast after the incident.