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VATICAN (ChurchMilitant.com) - A donation from the government of Argentina was rejected by Pope Francis earlier this week owing to the sum having the numeral "666" in it.
The total donation, 16,666,000 pesos, was to be given to the education project Scholas Occurentes, which was backed by the Pope and based on a similar initiative he founded when he was cardinal of Buenos Aires.
Two weeks ago, Pope Francis presided over an event in Rome to sponsor his initiative, which included the likes of celebrities George Clooney, Salma Hayek and Richard Gere. The president of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, made the donation to the Vatican following the event.
According to the Vatican Insider, the Pontiff wrote to the Argentinian branch of his initiative and asked them to return the donation to the government, writing, "I don't like the 666."
In a letter sent to Marcos Peña, cabinet chief of the Argentine administration, directors José María del Corral and Enrique Palmeyro of the Scholas Occurrentes education network confirmed the Vatican's decision "to suspend the non-refundable contribution fee amounting to 16,666,000 pesos" that was donated to the initiative, "taking into account that some may try to distort this gesture."
It was reported that Pope Francis was irritated that the Argentinian media portrayed the president's donation to the Vatican as a sign that relations between Pope Francis and the government were improving.
Citizens of Argentina who are not supporters of the Macri administration say the Pope's rejection of the large donation reflects how he feels about the administration's 500-percent raise in home power rates and 100-percent increase in public transport fares. But there has been recent tension between the Catholic Church and Argentina's administration.
A month ago, Macri met with several Catholic leaders in Argentina to discuss the high-priority poverty issues in the country. Both the president and the Catholic leaders left the meeting and gave no comment to the press.
A few hours later, the Vatican issued a document that called on Argentina's political leaders to "reduce the worrying poverty levels" seen in the country.
On May 25, at the Te Deum religious ceremony held to celebrate the May Revolution in Argentina, the archbishop that succeeded the Holy Father as head of Buenos Aires, Mario Poli, went after the government for failing to take poverty in Argentina seriously.
"Attention should be prioritized toward children and the elderly, the most vulnerable, to look after them is to guarantee the future of an independent and free country," Poli said, addressing President Macri and several other politicians who were attending Mass inside the Metropolitan Cathedral in Plaza de Mayo.
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