Updated 09:35 PM EDT, Fri, Oct 30, 2020

Pope Francis Returns Wooden Crucifix Gift From Bolivian President Evo Morales

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Pope Francis returned Bolivian president Evo Morales' gift depicting Jesus Christ nailed to a hammer and sickle.

The pope returned the gift he received at a formal ceremony after briefly examining the object, according to The Guardian. Upon giving back the wooden crucifix to a Bolivian presidential aide, camera shutters went off around the pope, drowning out any comments from the leader of the Catholic Church.

"While some have claimed he expressed irritation, muttering the words 'eso no está bien' ('this is not right'), Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the pope was more likely to have uttered 'eso no sabía bien' ('I didn't know that') in bemusement at the origins of the present," the news outlet further wrote.

Morales' gift prompted speculations from conservative Catholics who claimed that Pope Francis was being "manipulated for ideological reasons," The Guardian wrote. The Bolivian government, however, insisted that there was no political move behind the gift. Communications minister Marianela Paco said that the president assumed Pope Francis would appreciate the gesture.

The gift was modeled on a crucifix owned by slain journalist and Jesuit priest Luís Espinal, the news outlet noted. He was murdered in 1980 by paramilitaries when Bolivia was still under a dictatorship. On Wednesday night, Pope Francis stopped his popemobile from the airport to pray at the location where Espinal's dead body was discovered.

The pope is using his visit to Latin American countries to highlight the problems of the indigenous communities and to advise against "all totalitarian, ideological or sectarian schemes," The Guardian wrote. On Thursday, he called for an end to consumerism and "discarding people," Fox News Latino reported.

"Faced with so many kinds of hunger in our world, we cannot say to ourselves: 'Things don't add up; we will never balance the books. There is nothing to be done.' Because then despair takes over our hearts," the Argentine-born pope remarked, as quoted by Fox News Latino.

Pope Francis explained that the logic of materialism means dismissing those people who are unable to produce, often seeing them as unworthy and incapable. He called for "structural change," and for the poor to have the "sacred rights" of labor, housing, and land, The Guardian noted.

He also said that the pursuit of money is "the dung of the devil," the news outlet added. According to the pope, poor countries shouldn't be subjected to being providers of raw materials and cheap labor to rich nations. In his speech, he condemned a system that "has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature," The Guardian quoted.

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