Bolivian President Evo Morales Gives ‘Communist Crucifix' to Pope Francis

Pope Francis arrived in Bolivia on Wednesday on the second leg of his South American tour, where he was given a series of politically loaded gifts from president Evo Morales, including a crucifix carved into a wooden hammer and sickle, the Communist symbol uniting labor and peasants.

Shortly after arriving in Bolivia, Francis had stopped his motorcade along a highway at the site where a Jesuit priest, the Rev. Luis Espinal, was left in 1980 after being detained and tortured by Bolivia's paramilitary squads.

"Remember one of our brothers, a victim of interests that didn't want him to fight for Bolivia's freedom," Francis said from the popemobile to a crowd gathered at the site. "Father Espinal preached the Gospel, the Gospel that bothered them, and because of this they got rid of him."

The slain priest had a similar crucifix to the one given to Francis by Morales.

Another politically charged gift was a copy of "The Book of the Sea," which is about the loss of Bolivia's access to the sea during the War of the Pacific with Chile in 1879-83. Bolivia has taken its bid to renegotiate access to the Pacific to the International Court of Justice, arguing that its poverty is due in part to being land-locked. Chile has argued the court has no jurisdiction since Bolivia's borders were defined by a 1904 treaty.

For more on the Pope's visit, click here.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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