Morales hails Pope Francis as 'brother'

Bolivian President Evo Morales on Friday hailed Pope Francis as a "brother" as the two discussed social inequality and the role of the Church in Bolivia.

"For me you are brother Francis," Morales, a socialist, said at the start of the meeting, at which the pope responded: "That is how it should be".

The Vatican said Morales discussed the "socioeconomic and religious situation" in Bolivia and "the fight against social inequality and poverty".

Morales was first elected in 2006 and has had sometimes tense relations with the Catholic Church.

In 2010, a few days before being received by pope Benedict XVI, he said he was a practising Catholic.

Bolivia is 85-percent Catholic but native traditions are engrained in religious practices.

Leaders of the Bolivian Catholic Church have often criticised the socialist government's policies.