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AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
World News

Argentina downplays '666' Pope snub

The South American country's government has been shrugging off suggestions of a rift between the world's two most powerful Argentinians after a gift from Mauricio Macri of 16,666,000 pesos was turned down by an educational foundation supported by the pope.

According to the Vatican Insider news organisation, the pontiff wrote to the Scholas Occurentes foundation regarding the sum - which equates to £860,000 - saying: "I don't like the 666."

Mauricio Macri/Twitter

666 is referred to in Revelation 13:18 as "the number of the beast", although there is some degree of disagreement over whether the figure actually refers to the devil.

Argentinian newspaper, La Nacion, was told by an anonymous government source: "the sum was calculated based on the expenditures of the organisation's headquarters in Buenos Aires, on the salaries of 36 employees, and on equipment and maintenance expenses relating to a building of the former Administration of State Property.

"It was specifically asked for by them, so we are very surprised by what happened afterwards and that the Pope was not informed."

Difficulties between Pope Francis and President Macri reportedly date back to several years ago with the pontiff being opposed to Macri's austerity policies and for refusing to appeal a court order allowing same-sex marriage in Bueno Aires in 2009 (When Macri was the city's mayor).

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