CV NEWS FEED // The press office of the Holy See reported on Monday that Pope Francis and Argentinian president Javier Milei had a “cordial” private audience a day after both Argentinians embraced after a Sunday Mass at the Vatican.
The Holy See’s short statement announced that “this morning, the Holy Father Francis received in audience, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the President of the Argentine Republic, His Excellency Mr. Javier Gerardo Milei who subsequently met with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by His Excellency Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations.”
“During the cordial discussions, which took place at the Secretariat of State, appreciation was expressed for the good relations between the Holy See and the Argentine Republic, and the will to strengthen them further. The parties then addressed the new Government’s programme to counter the economic crisis,” the statement added.
But official photos and videos of the encounter showed an unusually cordial meeting between the two men, who spoke privately for more than an hour. Francis typically keeps private audiences to no longer than 30 minutes.
The official video also showed both men smiling, while Francis grasped Milei’s arm as they walked to their meeting
The previous day, as reported by the Associated Press, “Pope Francis and Argentine President Javier Milei embraced in St. Peter’s Basilica, as Argentine faith and politics came together during a Mass to canonize the country’s first female saint.”
Milei attended the ceremony of canonization of María Antonia de Paz y Figueroa. An informal greeting following the Mass marked the first meeting between the Argentine pope and Milei, who once called Francis an ‘imbecile’ and ‘ignorant’ for his position on economic issues.
“The president, who was seated to Francis’ right on the side of the main altar throughout the ceremony, bent over and gave the pope a big bearhug when Francis was wheeled over to him at the end of the service,” AP reported:
[Milei] also devotedly received Holy Communion, dispelling -at least temporarily- his claims that he was considering to become Jewish.
Later on Sunday, Milei wrote “Muchas gracias…!!!” (Many Thanks!) on his Instagram account, next to a photo of the encounter.
According to a report from Fortune, “‘That encounter marked a before and after,’ said Santiago Olivera, Argentina’s military bishop, who emphasized the importance of Monday’s meeting between both heads of state. ‘In addition to being Argentine and being the Holy Father, he is a man the world looks at with great devotion.’”
According to the Buenos Aires Times, “Relations between Milei and the pope have improved after the cardinal formerly known as Jorge Bergoglio congratulated the president on his election win. Milei in turn invited Francis to pay a visit to Argentina – the pontiff has not returned to his homeland since becoming pope in 2013.”
Speaking to Argentina’s Radio Mitre, before Monday’s audience, Milei praised Pope Francis, calling him “the most important Argentine in history” and said he hoped to have “a very fruitful dialogue.”
He also revealed that the presents he brought to Francis for his first private audience includes the official portrait of Mama Antula, Argentinian alfajores (a traditional dessert made of two shortbread cookies sandwiched with dulce de leche,) and lemmon cookies “of Pope Francis’ favorite brand.”
Born in 1730, María Antonia de Paz y Figueroa, popularly known in Argentina as “Mama Antula” left behind a comfortable life and remained single after a personal consecration to God. She devoted her life to spreading the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises across Argentina after the Jesuits were expelled from Spain’s colonies.