Communist crucifix gift for ‘atheist’ Pope
There is some lively debate in Catholic circles as to whether Pope Francis was perplexed or annoyed when he received a gift of a hammer and sickle crucifix from Bolivian President Evo Morales yesterday.
According to this Catholic New Agency report, when the leftist Morales – who looks more like a televangelist than a president – handed over the gift depicting a little man affixed to a hammer, the Pope shook his head and looked a bit nonplussed.
In video footage, filmed by the Vatican Television Center and transmitted throughout the world, the Pope appears to be saying “No está bien eso” – “This is not ok” – while shaking his head.
While the audio is a bit marred by the clicking of journalists’ cameras, the embarrassment of the Pope seems clear.
The monstrosity is a reproduction of another carved during the 1970s by Fr Luis Espinal Camps, a Spanish Jesuit who was a missionary in Bolivia. He was killed in 1980 during the Bolivian dictatorship.
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 Espinal’s.
He also claimed that 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 expressed a sentiment of “I didnt’ know”, rather than “This is not right”.
Morales’ gift sparked a worldwide controversy, and reactions were not long in coming. The majority of them accuse Morales of trying to politicise the Pope’s visit..
Morales is head of Bolivia’s Movement for Socialism party, and his adminstration has focused on implementing leftist policies in the nation. Since coming to power in 2006, Morales has frequently sparred with the Bolivian bishops.
Catholics from various Hispanophone countries rejected Morales’ gesture, considering it offensive to the numerous victims of terrorist groups in Latin America and of its 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.
A certain John Brown, commenting on the Catholic News Agency report, wrote:
A hammer and sickle crucifix like this appears to be clearly sacrilegious to me, and an insult to the Pope and the Church. However, President Morales, an Atheist Marxist, clearly seemed to think the Pope would be pleased.
It’s likely after the Pope’s full fledged plunge into secular politics on the side of the Atheist/Marxist left with his diatribe on Global Warming President Morales thought he had a fellow traveler visiting.
I truly hope the Pope was not please (sic) by a Communist Crucifix, but I honestly don’t know any longer. I know John Paul the Great would not have been please, (sic) but shockingly to me, Pope Francis seems lean to the extreme atheist left. So I just don’t know.
Espinal, a journalist who advocated for human rights and democracy, continues to be a source of controversy in Bolivia.
Some regard him as a martyr who lived the Gospel with the same spirit as “Blessed” Oscar Romero – who was martyred by right wing Salvadorans two days after Espinal’s death – while others claim the priest was a communist who became too involved in politics.