Pope Returns Donation, Noting It Had 666 in It
There's no love lost between him and Argentina's president
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2016 7:11 AM CDT
Pope Francis arrives for a visit to the United Nations World Food Program headquarters in Rome, Monday, June 13, 2016. Pope Francis said it is a "strange paradox" that food often cannot get through...   (Tony Gentile/ Pool Photo vi AP)

(Newser) – When Pope Francis first met with the newly elected president of his native Argentina in February, the Buenos Aires Herald termed their 22 minutes together as "frosty." Relations don't seem to have improved much since, with the Guardian reporting that a donation President Mauricio Macri made to an educational foundation promoted by the pope—an organization featuring ambassadors like George Clooney, Salma Hayek, and Richard Gere —was turned down, with a fairly icy postscript. Macri earlier this month donated 16,666,000 pesos, or nearly $1.2 million, to Scholas Occurentes; Francis reportedly instructed the charity's branch in Argentina to give it back, with the Guardian reporting that the pope was perturbed at the donation being painted by the media as proof of warming relations between the two.

The Herald reports that Francis instructed Scholas' directors to return the money, writing in a letter, "the Argentine government needs to address so many needs you shouldn’t be demanding a single penny from it." And so last Thursday they did, specifying that in returning it they were "taking into account that some may try to distort this gesture ... with the aim of creating confusion and sowing division among Argentines." The Guardian has one more detail from Francis' letter, by way of local media. It reports Francis added in a postscript to the directors, "I don't like the 666." Macri and Francis' relationship stretches back to a time when one was Buenos Aires' mayor, the other its archbishop. The Herald notes relations began to deteriorate in 2009 when Macri declined to appeal a court ruling that allowed a gay couple to marry in the city.
 

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