Pope Francis Receives the President of Argentina

Source: FSSPX News

On February 12, 2024, the Sovereign Pontiff received the new Argentine head of state for the first time at the Vatican. He is a colorful politician who did not hesitate to insult Pope Francis copiously during his electoral campaign.

“Have you had your hair cut?” No, I combed my hair!”  The tone of the meeting between the Pope and Javier Milei was set when the two hugged in the papal library. It seems the Pope is willing to forgive and forget that the new strong man of Argentina had insulted him with filthy remarks during his campaign.

“El loco, the madman” – the nickname given to the new president, because of his haircut and his temperament – had earlier attended the canonization Mass of the first Argentine saint, Maria Antonia de San Giuseppe de Paz y Figueroa, better known as “Mama Antula,” in Saint Peter's Basilica

The Argentine minister in charge of religion, Francisco Sanchez, summarized the meeting in this way: “The meeting had surprising aspects. There were many gestures of affection between the two men; it took place in a very cordial manner with a lot of sympathy, lasting more than an hour, a much longer duration than is customary in this type of interview. Everything went beyond what we could have expected and that obviously satisfied us.”

Another Argentinian, Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez, prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, also spoke with Javier Milei and spoke to the press about the insults made by his compatriot against the Pope during the electoral campaign: “In my opinion, that was part of a marketing strategy. Milei approached the Pope with great affection this morning.”

El loco – who officially renewed his invitation to Francis to come to Argentina – also explained his sudden change of attitude towards the successor of Peter: “One of the things I understood is that the pope is the most important person in all of Argentina. He is the leader of Catholics worldwide. And I had to reconsider some of my positions and, from that point on, we both started to build a positive relationship.”

The official press release from the Holy See Press Office noted that after his meeting with Pope Francis, Javier Milei was received by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, as well as the Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations.

There is no doubt that Argentina's internal situation was at the heart of the discussion: the country is going through a deep political and economic crisis, part of the population is even suffering from hunger.

Alongside the first austerity measures decided by Javier Milei the day after his election, including the liberalization of prices and 50% devaluation of the peso against a backdrop of record inflation (211%), the Argentine government, encouraged by the episcopate, announced emergency measures for the most deprived, such as the doubling of food vouchers (up to 91,000 pesos (100 euros)) and family allowances (up to 41,000 pesos (40 euros)).