Moments after arriving in Bolivia, Pope Francis met with the country's president Evo Morales. Following tradition, gifts were exchanged. But, the gifts the president gave the Pope, lifted some eye brows.
They were politically charged gifts, including a crucifix connected to the hammer and sickle, the international symbol of communism. The same design was also included in the necklace the president gave to the Pope.
As Morales explained its significance, the Pope remained expressionless.
Then the Pope made his way to the Cathedral of La Paz, where he addressed civil authorities, among them was the president.
The relationship between Bolivia and the local Church has a tense history. The Pope highlighted that religion and its programs, should not be limited as a sub culture.
"Faith cannot be restricted to a purely subjective experience. This also challenges us to help foster spiritual growth, a commitment to faith and Christianity. A commitment in social projects that extend the common good.”
Bolivia, like other countries in Latin America, said the Pope, is facing many challenges. Everything ranging from unemployment to domestic violence. A strong family is part of the solution, he said, not deceiving ideologies.
"Pseudo-solutions provide answers that are not favorable for families. They represent a clear ideological colonization.”
In a country where social inequalities continue to be a main social challenge, the Pope reminded civil authorities to think of the greater good in the their policies.
"Without even being conscious of it, we confuse the 'common good' with 'personal prosperity.' Little by little it becomes a slippery slope. The ideal of the common good becomes lost and it turns into prosperity. Especially when we are the ones enjoy it.”
Unlike ideologies, he added, the light of Jesus, is not a blinding light, but one that leads.
The Pope then added that the Gospel is not something that belongs to the Church, but rather its Her responsibility to preach it and extend it beyond its borders.