Argentine President Javier Milei, Pope Francis to meet

Javier Milei and Pope Francis Argentine President Javier Milei and Pope Francis. | Credit: Vox Spain/Flickr and Daniel Ibáñez/ACI Prensa

Pope Francis confirmed that he will meet with the president of Argentina, Javier Milei, who will be attending the canonization of Blessed María Antonia of St. Joseph — also known as Mama Antula — the first Argentine female saint, to be held Feb. 11 in Rome.

In this context, the Holy Father said he was “ready to start a dialogue” with the president of his native country and assured that he wasn’t offended by the insults that Milei had hurled against him before he was elected president. “Words during the election campaign come and go,” the pope downplayed.

Regarding Milei’s visit to the Vatican, the pontiff said: “On Feb. 11, the canonization of ‘Mama Antula,’ founder of the House of Spiritual Exercises of Buenos Aires, will take place. Before canonizations it is customary to greet the authorities in the sacristy.”

“And then I learn that he asked me for a meeting: I accepted, and so we’ll be seeing each other. And I am willing to start a dialogue, talking and listening, with him. As with everyone,” the pope explained.

A few weeks ago, Milei made public a letter he wrote to Pope Francis inviting him to visit Argentina.

“His presence and his message will contribute to the long-desired unity of all our compatriots and will provide us with the collective strength necessary to preserve our peace and work for the prosperity and advancement of our beloved Argentine Republic,” the letter stated.

On this topic, the pontiff said that for the moment the trip to his homeland is a possibility that is under consideration and that its organization “has not yet begun.” However, he confirmed a visit to Belgium and a tour in August that will include stops in Indonesia, East Timor, and Papua New Guinea.

The Argentine news portal Infobae reported that the private audience between the president and the Holy Father was confirmed in Rome.

Private meeting set for Feb. 12

Infobae added after the private meeting with the pope, scheduled for Feb. 12, Milei plans to have lunch with his Italian counterpart, Sergio Mattarella, followed by a meeting with Giorgia Meloni, the president of the Council of Ministers.

Although presidential spokesman Manuel Adorni had clarified that the personal meeting between Milei and Pope Francis was not confirmed, the trip to Italy was already on the agenda as well as attendance at the canonization ceremony.

The confirmation came after Argentina’s current ambassador to the Holy See, María Fernanda Silva, officially informed the Foreign Ministry that the meeting had to be arranged through the embassy in addition to the request already made by the government through the nunciature, Infobae explained.

Milei’s agenda includes first a trip to Israel and then on to Rome.

During his election campaign, Milei had some harsh criticism for the pope, for which he later apologized. In their first face-to-face meeting Milei will have the opportunity to get to know Francis in person.

At first glance, the differences seem to have been also set aside by Francis, who in December called the president-elect to congratulate him on his victory and has now confirmed his interest in beginning a dialogue.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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