ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE – Pope Francis says he wasn't offended by the "Communist crucifix" given to him by Bolivian President Evo Morales during his South American pilgrimage.
The crucifix was a replica of one designed by a Jesuit priest, the Rev. Luis Espinal, who was tortured and killed by Bolivian paramilitary squads in 1980. Francis prayed at the site of Espinal's assassination upon his arrival in Bolivia.
The modified crucifix immediately raised eyebrows, with some questioning whether Morales, whose socialist and anti-church rhetoric is well-known, was trying to score a questionable political point with a questionable, and possibly sacrilegious, melding of faith and ideology.
During a news conference en route home to Rome on Sunday, Francis said he interpreted Morales' gift through the prism of Espinal's Marxist bent and viewed it as protest art.