“There is the Argentine hypothesis, but for now I have it ‘in parentheses’: the organization of the visit has not yet started,” the Argentine pope told the Italian newspaper La Stampa, cited by the Spanish agency EFE.
Francis has never visited the country where he was born 87 years ago like Jorge Mario Bergoglio since he was elected Pope on March 13, 2013.
The head of the Catholic Church will receive the new Argentine President, Javier Milei, on February 12, at the Vatican, who will personally invite him to visit the country.
Milei, a 53-year-old populist who considers himself an anarcho-capitalist, has been President of Argentina since December 10th.
He criticized Francisco during the election campaign, but changed his attitude after being elected and urged him to visit Argentina.
Francisco said he was not bothered by the criticism, which he attributed to the electoral campaign environment, and explained that he is going to meet Milei because he will participate, on February 11, in the canonization of an Argentine blessed.
“Before canonizations, it is customary to greet the authorities in the sacristy. Furthermore, I know that he asked to schedule an interview with me, so I accepted, let’s see each other”, said Francisco.
“And I’m ready to start a dialogue, in words and in listening, with him. As with everyone,” he added to La Stampa.
According to Argentine government sources, Milei will be received on February 11 by the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, while the audience with Francisco will take place the following day.
It will be the first meeting between the two after Milei attacked him on several occasions during the election campaign.
After Milei was elected, Francisco spoke to the new Argentine head of state on the phone and sent him a rosary.
Milei, a Catholic who recently converted to Judaism, later wrote a letter to Francisco, conveying to him the “filial affection of the Argentine people” and inviting him to visit Argentina.
“Your presence and your message will contribute to the much-desired unity of all our compatriots and will give us the collective strength necessary to preserve our peace and work for the prosperity and growth of our beloved Argentine Republic”, he said Milei in the letter.
The visit to Timor-Leste had already been announced by the East Timorese President, José Ramos-Horta, when he was received by Francis on January 22, at the Vatican.
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