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That look you get when you give the pope a crucifix shaped like a hammer and sickle

The pope looked bemused when leftist Bolivian president Evo Morales handed him one of the more unusual gifts he has received: a wooden hammer and sickle crucifix. (Video: Reuters)

It's the kind of gaze you see when a relative hands a present to a child after not seeing them for a few years.

They don't quite like it. They don't know what they'll do with it. But they remain polite and, well, just keep looking at it until the moment has passed.

And judging by Pope Francis's reaction in La Paz on Wednesday, after Bolivian President Evo Morales handed him a wooden hammer and sickle with a crucifix carved into the front, he's probably wondering whether there's some sort of gift receipt.

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Footage of the incident shows Morales presenting it to the pope as cameras flashed to capture the exchange. Francis briefly grasps what was later dubbed the "Communist crucifix" before passing it off, and looking quite puzzled.

Discussion quickly turned to the symbolism of the offering, with some slamming Morales's gesture as purely political. Tension between Morales, a left-wing populist who assumed the presidency in 2006, and the Catholic Church has been well documented.

But Bolivia's communications minister, Marianela Paco, said to radio station Patria Nueva that "it was not any sort of maneuver ... it was really from great affection."

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The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, who according to the Associated Press told reporters Thursday that he was not offended by the gift, said the pope was taken aback by hearing from Morales that the crucifix had been designed by the Rev. Luis Espinal, a Jesuit activist who was assassinated in 1980.

During his stop in Bolivia, on his three-country South American tour, the pope prayed at the location where the body of Espinal had been discarded.

As for where the gift will go, Lombardi made one thing clear: "Certainly ... it will not be put in a church."

Another present from Morales on Thursday appeared to go over, well, much better.