Pope Francis rejected a charitable donation from Argentinian government of President Mauricio Macri that totaled 16,666,000 pesos (slightly under $1.2M).
It was supposed to be donated to Scholas Occurentes educational foundation which is backed by the pope and is based on similar organization founded by Francis when he was cardinal of Buenos Aires.
According to the Vatican Insider, a publication specializing in papal affairs published by the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Pope Francis wrote to the Argentinian and asked them to return the money saying: “I don’t like the 666.”
Macri made the donation when the pope presided over an event in Rome which medals were awarded to Hollywood celebs George Clooney, Salma Hayek, and Richard Gere as ambassadors for the charity.
But the pope have been reported particularly irritated when the donation was presented as a sign that relations between the two leaders were improving.
But the government stated that there are those trying to misinterpret the institutional gesture with the purpose of creating confusion and division among Argentines. They denied that the return of the donation had caused any ill will.
“There is no animosity towards the president,” said foreign minister Susana Malcorra after a meeting with Pope Francis in Rome. “It was a very rich, very natural conversation, with no calling of accounts or enormous philosophical differences.”
“Whoever thinks that by giving money, especially public funds to a foundation directly or indirectly linked to Francis, is making a gesture to the pope, is stupid,” Juan Grabois, an Argentinian social activist and Vatican advisor told Argentinian media.