Bolivia: Gift of ‘Communist crucifix to pope not political

The audience gave Francis a standing ovation when he put on a yellow miner’s hat that was given to him at the end of his speech.


Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia) (AFP) – Pope Francis, in a historic gesture of reconciliation, sought forgiveness Thursday from Bolivia’s predominantly indigenous inhabitants for crimes committed centuries earlier in the name of the Catholic Church.

In one of many sections on colonialism, he stated: “I say this to you with remorse: many grave sins have been dedicated towards the native peoples of America within the identify of God”. “It shows that faith is universal”, said Victor Hugo Lobato, a 43-year-old teacher who camped out with his family overnight at the Quito park after a bus trip through the previous night. I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offenses of the Church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America.

The pope has been outspoken in his criticism of capitalism throughout his two-year papacy.

The message of solidarity with Palmasola’s prisoners and guards is consistent with his outreach to the downtrodden and marginalized that Francis has championed as pope and in particular on his three-nation South American pilgrimage. The mass incorporated indigenous languages and motifs representing some of Bolivia’s 36 indigenous groups.

During his visit to Ecuador, and now Bolivia, Francis has made broad calls for Latin American unity – on Thursday mentioning “Patria Grande”, the historic ambition to make the continent a unified world force – even as he has sidestepped a few local controversies.

He says: “There isn’t a single act that is explicitly for the indigenous, but rather they are included within encounters with social movements together with other sectors”.

At the meeting, which was sponsored by the Vatican and organised with Morales’ assistance, the pope denounced the global financial system as unjust and unsustainable. Its Justice and Peace council organized this meeting with Bolivia’s government, which chose the more than 1,500 delegates.

Bajak reported from Santa Cruz, Bolivia. “Do not forget your Quechua, your Aymara, your Guarani”, Francis stressed. But Morales, an Aymara Indian known for anti-imperialist and socialist stands, said things have changed with this pope and the Bolivian people are greeting Francis as someone who is “helping in the liberation of our people“.

Pope Francis rebuked Bolivian President Evo Morales when he presented him with a crucifix mounted on the symbol of Communism – a hammer-and-sickle. “You can dispute the significance and use of the symbol now, but the origin is from Espinal and the sense of it was about an open dialogue, not about a specific ideology”, Lombardi said, according to the Washington Post.

The effort includes extra ambulances, helicopters and specially outfitted airplanes, as well as military hospital tents and portable bathrooms.

Paraguay’s government has declared Friday and Saturday national holidays in honor of the pope’s visit.

In June, Pope Francis issued an important document urging immediate action on climate change.

The famously unpretentious pope changed into his vestments for the Mass in a nearby Burger King.

Francis is addressing hundreds of thousands in Christ the Redeemer square in Santa Cruz.

The pontiff said that the logic of materialism results in everything becoming an object that can be bought and sold, consumed and negotiated. “That economy kills”, she said.

Mexican Bishop Raul Vera, who said the church was passive in the enslavement of the continent by the Spanish, said Francis’ apology was especially moving given the setting and circumstances.

Referring to the Gospel story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, Pope Francis pointed out that the disciples did not think it would be possible to feed so many people, and they thought Jesus should send the crowd away.


La Paz stands at 4,000 metres (about 13,120 feet) above sea level, and the Vatican made a decision to keep the pope’s stay to just four hours to limit any problems for the 78-year-old pontiff, who has only one full lung.

He will head on Friday to Paraguay the last stop on his tour of South America