Argentina to issue commemorative coins to honour native son, Pope Francis

BUENOS AIRES (AFP) - Argentina moved a step closer on Thursday to issuing commemorative coins to honour its native son, Pope Francis, after its lower chamber of Congress backed the move.

"We believe that the personality, charisma and humility of Pope Francis have helped revive goodwill toward the Roman Catholic Church worldwide," reads the Bill passed by the House of Deputies. It now will go before the Senate in Argentina, which has been swept by papal fever since the Pontiff was selected in March.

The measure honouring the Buenos Aires-born Jorge Bergoglio, the first Pope from the Americas, calls for a coin to be minted with the motto "Homage of the Argentine people to Pope Francis".

The vote was 177 in favour and three opposed. Lawmaker Marcela Rodriguez explained her opposition by noting that Argentina's state is supposed to be lay in nature. She said the law violates religious freedom and equality.