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After hugs and alfajores, Milei meets with Pope Francis in the Vatican

After hugs and alfajores, Milei meets with Pope Francis in the Vatican

The Argentine president Javier Milei He was received this Monday by his compatriot Pope Francis, in an audience in the Vatican aimed at strengthening the relationship between two ideologically opposed leaders and in which the most Argentine of gifts was not missing: alfajores.

The Argentine pontiff and Milei met for an hour and ten minutes at the Apostolic Palace, the day after seeing each other for the first time in the Vatican and exchanging hugs on the occasion of the canonization of Mama Antula (1730-1799), the first Argentine saint. .

In a more formal tone, they met in audience this Monday, to speak at length and try to strengthen their relationship after the insults that Milei hurled at the pope in the past.

For the moment, the Vatican did not comment on one of the big issues that the meeting raised, Francis’ possible trip this year to Argentina, which he has not visited since he was elected head of the Catholic Church in 2013.

Gift exchange

As could be seen in the video released by the Vatican, the president gave his compatriot and former archbishop of Buenos Aires some dark chocolate alfajores filled with dulce de leche and some lemon cookies, as well as a postcard from the Argentine Post Office in honor by Mama Antula.

In turn, Francisco gave Milei his peace speech this year, which calls for regulating artificial intelligence, and a bronze medallion inspired from the baldachin, the imposing structure of four Solomonic columns that covers the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica.

In the center of the medallion, the dove of the Holy Spirit, as “symbol of unity, strength and inspiration“, according to the explanatory document released by the Holy See.

Substantive differences

Kind regards aside, Francisco and Milei They met against the backdrop of political and social tension in their native Argentina, and have known differences in approach.

Milei, as a staunch defender of the free market, advocates a radical cut in public spending, a broad privatization policy and minimal State intervention. Among his first measures, he devalued the peso by 50%.

Francis, for his part, has based much of his pastoral work on criticizing the economic and environmental drifts of neoliberalism, and constantly advocates for public powers to protect the most vulnerable.

The Pope is always worried; It is evidently an issue that he has in his heart, that people do not suffer“, Argentine Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, head of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, told the press in the Vatican.

Last week, the so-called Omnibus Law, a huge package of economic, political and administrative reforms promoted by Milei’s team, which governs in a minority and will now have to rethink its strategy in the face of a growing opposition, foundered in the lower house.

From Israel, where he was visiting, Milei He reacted angrily and called his opponents “corrupt” and “criminals”.

The economic issue was not lacking in the interviews of Milei this Monday in the Vatican.

After seeing the pope, the president met with Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State.

In a brief statement, the Vatican noted that “during the cordial conversations at the Secretary of State”, was addressed at length “the new Government’s program to face the economic crisis” in Argentina, where inflation ended last year above 200% and poverty affects 40% of the population.

Change of tone

The Argentine president, a far-right economist raised in a Catholic family, has in the past accused the pope of “seek to spread communism“, and more recently of “political interference” during his election campaign.

However, in recent months he changed his tone, and in January he issued an official invitation to Francisco to visit his native Argentina.

Francis, 87, played down the past attacks by attributing them to the electoral context, and after these good words the two staged a new harmony this Sunday with their hugs in the Vatican.

According to his insiders, Francisco, who in the past had his differences with several presidents such as Mauricio Macri and the Kirchners, Néstor and Cristina, did not want to travel to Argentina until now to prevent his presence from being used politically.

On his second trip abroad since taking office on December 10, Milei He arrived in Rome on Friday from Israel.

Javier Milei’s delegation in Italy and the Vatican included his sister Karina, Secretary General of the Presidency, the Minister of the Interior Guillermo Francos – a former student of Jorge Bergoglio in Argentina -, the Chancellor Diana Mondino, the Minister of Human Capital Sandra Pettovello, the Secretary of Worship Francisco Sánchez and Rabbi Axel Wahnish, spiritual advisor to the president and designated ambassador to the State of Israel.

This Monday, the Argentine president also planned to meet with his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella, and with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Source: Gestion

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