It’s one of those photos that cries out for a thought bubble.
During Pope Francis’ visit to Bolivia yesterday — the second stop on the Pope’s three-country tour of South America this week — left-wing President Evo Morales offered him an unusual crucifix that depicts Jesus nailed to a hammer and sickle. That is, Jesus laid out on the international symbol for communism.
Francis reportedly muttered to Morales, “Eso no está bien.” Translation: We are not amused.
But insert a balloon over Francis’ head, and I'll bet he was also thinking: “Gee, thanks, Evo. As if I didn’t have enough trouble with conservatives.”
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This pope isn’t exactly the darling of the international right wing. , whether it’s Roman Catholics in the Vatican or Republicans in the U.S. They already consider him a commie in a cassock — thanks to his emphasis on social justice for the poor, income inequality between countries and the really green encyclical he published last month supporting climate change science. Now, conservatives will most likely hold up the image of Pope Francis receiving Jesus the Revolutionary from Comrade Evo as prized proof of his Marxist bona fides. Only a shot of Barack Obama wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt would fetch a higher price on Planet Conspiracy.
On Planet Reality, neither Francis nor Obama is a socialist. Still, both religious and political conservatives should take a long hard look at the photo from Bolivia — because it speaks volumes not about Francis’ radical flaws but about their reactionary failures.
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Tim Padgett is WLRN’s Americas editor.