Pope Francis and President Javier Milei will meet for the first time in the Vatican on Monday, in an event marked by past attacks on the pontiff’s ultraliberal leader and the turbulent political context in his native Argentina. Milei will attend Sunday morning at St. Peter’s Basilica of the canonization of Blessed María Antonia de Paz y Figueroa, known as Mama Antula (1730-1799), a protector of Jesuit heritage and human rights pioneer who would become the first saint in Argentina. .
The ceremony was the first time for President Milei to greet Francisco, a Jesuit, Argentine and former archbishop of Buenos Aires. The next day they will speak at length, to an audience scheduled for the Holy See. The event will include a meeting between two leaders who are located in ideological opposites, which in recent weeks have been held in a rapprochement, including a call from the pontiff to the new president after his electoral victory.
One of the big questions that will be planned in the meetings this Sunday and Monday is whether Francis will visit his native Argentina this year, which he has not visited since he was elected head of the Catholic Church in 2013. Another question is explosive. political environment in Argentina, where Milei’s mega package of deregulatory reforms was stopped this week by the lower house of Congress, due to lack of support.
From Israel, where he visited, the president reacted angrily, calling the representatives who did not support him a “group of criminals.”
Milei invited Francisco to visit the country last month, declaring in a letter that his arrival “will bring the fruits of peace and fraternity to all Argentines, eager to overcome divisions and confrontation.” The letter served as a public apology, after the insults that Milei made against the pope when he was a television panelist – “imbecile”, “representative of evil” – and even during his election campaign, when he accused him that is “political.” interference.”
Francisco himself played on the issue in an interview with the Mexican channel Televisa in December, saying that “we need to know a lot between what a politician says in the election campaign and what he actually does afterwards. ” Milei and Francisco started from opposite positions, the first from ultraliberalism and the second from the defense of the poorest and environmental protection.
But Sergio Rubín, papal biographer and Argentinian journalist, saw a meeting point in the letter where Milei invited Francisco to Argentina. In it, the president emphasized the protection of “our vulnerable countrymen” when applying reforms that straighten the economic path of a country with inflation of more than 200% and 40% of its population in poverty.
“I believe that these two things are very important,” said Rubín to AFP: “the contribution to the unity of the Argentines,” in a polarized country, and “how the change affects those who have the most little, those who burden. shared fairly.” “I think the pope will tell him ‘take care of the poor, and try to create a less confrontational climate in Argentina,'” Rubín said.
From Catholicism to Judaism
During his stay in Italy, Milei also plans to meet on Monday with President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. In his second visit abroad since taking office on December 10, Milei traveled to Rome from Israel, where he showed his special harmony with Judaism. The Argentine leader, who grew up in a Catholic family, traveled there accompanied by Rabbi Axel Wahnish, his spiritual advisor and ambassador-designate of the State of Israel.
In Jerusalem, Milei prayed emotionally at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, often called by its Hebrew name, the Kotel, and announced his “plan” to move the Argentine embassy to the Holy City. hosts. Although at the moment he said that a conversion is not considered because, as he said, “there are issues that can make it incompatible” with his current role, such as the mandatory Saturday rest.