Pope Francis has rebuked his host Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, after the left-wing South American leader presented him with a crucifix mounted on a hammer and sickle – the international symbol of the avowedly atheist creed of communism.
The disapproving look on the pontiff’s face made abundantly clear that he was not impressed by the provocative greeting gift handed to him Mr Morales when he paid a courtesy call after arriving in the country.
“That’s not right,” the Pope noted.
Morales is an extreme leftist who has been quite hostile to the Catholic Church, pre-Francis (he tried to prohibit the teaching of Catholicism in Catholic schools). Public ceremonies in Bolivia begin with an invocation of the Andean earth goddess, Pachamama.
NOTE: The Vatican later said that Pope Francis was not offended by the crucifix.