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The pope gave a disappointed look at the wooden hammer and sickle gift featuring Jesus Christ, the newspaper reported. Bolivian officials tried to downplay the incident, saying the gift was a replica of a crucifix made by the late Father Luis Espinal, who was gunned down by a paramilitary death squad in 1980, The Telegraph reported.
Mr. Morales, who once referred to the Catholic faith as his “main enemy,” had a tenuous relationship with the Church prior to Pope Francis’s arrival. The Associated Press reported that he immediately removed the Bible and cross from the presidential palace after taking office, as well as turning the nation into a secular state, with Andean religious rituals in place of Catholic rites at official state ceremonies.