Pope Rejects Argentine President's Donation Because It Has '666' in It
Well, here's a strange one: Pope Francis last week rejected a donation from Argentine President Mauricio Macri, allegedly because of a certain Antichrist-related three-digit number.
Macri, in what was either a subtle troll job or an unfortunate coincidence, offered 16,666,000 Argentine pesos (about $1.2 million) to Scholas Occurrentes, a global education initiative the Pope backs. According to The Washington Post, the pope sent a memo to the nonprofit advising it to turn down the donation because of its possible political implications, adding, "I don't like the 666."
As The Washington Post pointed out, the pope and Macri have something of a history. Francis, himself Argentine and the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, and Macri have butted heads on various issues, especially austerity measures Macri enacted that are largely seen as damaging to Argentina's poor. They apparently disagreed on other matters, as well. Via the paper:
An article recounting Macri's trip to the Vatican in February was headlined "Pope gives Macri a frosty 22 minutes."
“Good morning, Mr. President. How are you doing?” the pope apparently asked Macri—one imagines with pursed lips and a quick handshake. Macri answered equally curtly: “How are you doing, Francis? Pleased to see you.”
The pope went on to urge Macri to focus more on poverty reduction. He then gifted Macri a crucifix, a poncho and a few CDs. Argentine media reports that their relationship began to sour when Macri, as mayor of Buenos Aires, refused to appeal a court order green-lighting same-sex marriage in the city in 2009.
Macri's camp said the 666 was unintentional, with the total calculated based on metrics Scholas Occurrentes requested.
"It was specifically asked for by them," said a spokesperson for Macri's office, according to The Washington Post. "So we are very surprised by what happened afterwards and that the pope was not informed."