Update: Pope Francis Drinks Coca Tea, Turns Up Nose at Hammer and Sickle Crucifix
Francis did in fact decide to consume coca.
On Tuesday, we told you about the news that Pope Francis asked to try coca — traditionally used as a mild stimulant, herbal remedy, and sacrament — during his visit to Bolivia. The plant’s more controversial use is in the production of cocaine.
Francis did in fact decide to consume coca, drinking it in the form of tea during his flight from Ecuador to Bolivia, the Guardian reported on Wednesday. But he wasn’t so eager to accept other local gifts. Bolivian President Evo Morales gave the pontiff a forearm-sized hammer and sickle crucifix on Wednesday. “No está bien eso,” Francis responded, according to some accounts. Morales has praised the pope, but has taken positions opposing the church as a legacy of colonialism. He once called it his “main enemy.”
Francis, for his part, used his visit to emphasize the church’s strong hold in Bolivia, where Christianity and local religions and customs have existed side by side for hundreds of years.
“I remain convinced that we Bolivians have a double religion, double faith,” Morales said in January. “We are Catholics, but at the same time we have rituals of our own.”
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