Morales gave Francis the crucifix carved into a hammer and sickle upon Francis’ arrival in Bolivia Wednesday, immediately raising eyebrows given Morales’ past attacks on the church and his socialist bent.
It turns out, the crucifix was originally designed by a Jesuit activist, the Rev. Luis Espinal, who was assassinated in 1980 by suspected paramilitaries during the months that preceded a military coup. Francis, a fellow Jesuit, stopped his motorcade to pray at the site where Espinal’s body had been dumped.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Thursday the pope had no idea that Espinal had designed the crucifix and was surprised to receive it — a reaction clearly visible in the footage of the encounter. Some reports suggested the pope told Morales “This isn’t good;” one of Francis’ friends sent a tweet quoting him as saying such. But Lombardi said it wasn’t known what the pope had said.