Bolivian President Evo Morales gave Pope Francis a hammer and sickle crucifix, and the gift instantly caused confusion and controversy throughout the world.
According to the Bolivian leader, it was designed by the Spanish missionary Luis Espinal. He was murdered in 1980 by pro-government paramilitaries. Hours before receiving the gift, the Pope made a special stop to pray at the spot where Espinal's body was found.
According to the Vatican, that particular design was not "a symbol of Marxist interpretation, but instead of dialogue.”
FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI
"Indeed, it was something designed by Espinal. It is not something that was created after or now. With the attitude of very open dialogue with everyone.”
Lombardi affirmed that the Pope did not say anything that shows "a particular negative reaction” to the gift, even though his reaction to the gift generated doubt.
Some said that it sounded like the Pope had responded "that's not right,” but others suggested that he said, "I didn't know that.” Lombardi also acknowledged that they had no known about the gift beforehand.
In any case, it was not the only political gift that Morales gave to the Pope. The other was "Book of Sea,” which includes arguments about a land dispute between Bolivia and Chile.