Pope rejects donation from Argentine president with 666 in sum

June 16, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Pope Francis has rejected a charitable donation from Argentine president Mauricio Macri – at least partly – because the sum included the figure 666, reports The Guardian.

The decision has hardened an already frosty relationship between two of the world’s most prominent Argentinians.

Earlier this month, the centre-right president made a donation that tottaled 16,666,000 pesos (slightly under $1.2 million) to the Scholas Occurentes educational foundation, which is backed by the Pope and is based on a similar organisation founded by Francis when he was Cardinal of Buenos Aires.

Two weeks ago, the Pope presided over an event in Rome at which medals were awarded to Hollywood celebrities George Clooney, Selma Hayek, and Richard Gere, who have agreed to be ambassadors for the charity. Shortly afterwards, Mr Macri made his donation.

But according to the Vatican Insider – a publication specialising in papal affairs published by the Italian newspaper La Stampa – Francis wrote to the Argentinian branch of the foundation, asking them to return the money. In a postscript, he wrote: “I don’t like the 666.”

Francis, who has long supported progressive causes in Argentina, and the centre-right president Mr Macri have often found themselves on opposite sides of political debate.

But the Pope is reported to have been particularly irritated when the Argentinian media presented the President’s donation as a sign that relations between the two leaders were improving.

The Argentinian chapter of Scholas returned the donation saying that “there are those who are trying to misrepresent this institutional gesture . . . with the purpose of generating confusion and division among Argentines.”

Government officials denied that the return of the donation had caused any ill will.

– cna

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