Vatican officials appear to have been flummoxed after Pope Francis was presented with a communist crucifix depicting Jesus nailed to a hammer and sickle by Bolivia’s president Evo Morales.
The gift from the leftwing leader caused an immediate stir among conservative Catholics who said the pontiff was being manipulated for ideological reasons.
The response of the pope was less clear. After being handed the wooden crucifix during a formal ceremony, he examined it for a few seconds before returning it to a Bolivian presidential aide.
His comments were largely drowned out by a flurry of camera clicks, prompting a flood of speculation. While some have claimed he expressed irritation, muttering the words “eso no está bien” (“this is not right”), Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the pope was more likely to have uttered “no sabía eso” (“I didn’t know that”) in bemusement at the origins of the present.