The Catholic blogosphere has been buzzing since last Thursday when the “Communist crucifix” was presented as a gift to Pope Francis by Morales. Everyone has been questioning the underlying intention of the President of Bolivia in giving this blasphemous symbol of ‘atheistic-communism-merged-with-the-Crucified-Saviour’, to the Vicar of Christ. Did Morales think the Pope would like his gift and sympathise with its symbolism? Or was he cunningly out to trick him and place him in an awkward position?
What do you think the Pope should have done? Smash the evil symbol to the ground? Hand it back again to the [apparently] anti-Catholic Bolivian President with a polite, “No, thank you!” Or respond with a resounding, “Get out! Get out! The Catholic Faith is a gift from Almighty God and I will not have you polluting it. GET OUT!”, like the ‘Catholic warrior-for-truth’, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, when finding himself in a similar situation?
Communism has been the cause of countless millions of deaths of Christians, both actively and passively (through starvation and exile), unimaginable suffering and tortures, that not even violent Islam with its wars and ongoing jihadism has been able to rival. Even now, the scars of past Communist horrors and its satanical ideology are still being felt in countries many years after its regime has been all but eradicated.
The Eponymous Flower shrewdly notes: “Undoubtedly, many martyrs were “crucified” on the hammer and sickle in the twentieth century, but just what was the true intention of the Bolivian President Evo Morales? We have no answers to give, but we can pray for all the victims of Communism, asking the intercession of all the saints and blessed who have given their lives for the Church and who were martyred in supreme hatred of the faith from the children of the worst of Marxist ideologues in the name of class struggle that has nothing to do with the Gospel and with the message of salvation contained in it.”
Catholics from various Hispanophone countries rejected Morales’ gesture, considering it an outright offense to the numerous victims of terrorist groups in Latin America and of the historical totalitarian communist regimes. Spanish Bishop Jose Munilla Aguirre of San Sebastián, tweeted: “The height of arrogance is to manipulate God in the service of atheistic ideologies … Today, once again: #ChristCrucified”.
The Rev. James Bretzke, a theologian at Boston College in Massachusetts, asks: “Does this seem to be using the Crucifix for political agenda? And I would say the answer is probably yes. Therefore, I would judge it personally in bad taste and especially manipulative to present it to the Holy Father in a situation like that where it clearly hadn’t been cleared ahead of time.”
It would seem that Pope Francis himself, who appeared to register surprise when the polemic gift was presented to him, reflected it was “in bad taste” too. As Andrea Tornelli reports in Vatican Insider, he left the gift behind in Bolivia!
“This morning Francis lay the two presidential honours he received Wednesday from President Evo Morales in La Paz, at the feet of Our Lady of Copacabana. One of these featured the hammer and anvil with a carving of a crucifix
Before leaving Bolivia, Francis placed two gifts he received on Wednesday from President Evo Morales at the foot of a statue of Mary. One of these, a chain with a chunky medallion, had the figure of the crucified Christ carved into a wooden hammer and anvil. This image had been drawn by Fr. Luis Espinal, the Jesuit priest who was assassinated in Bolivia in March 1980.”
For anyone who might have missed it, Fr Z has written two insightful and interesting (as always) pieces on this controversial incident, both here – and then asking where is “the liberal ‘c’atholic anger at insult to the Pope and the Church?” here.