The Pope and the Argentine president appear to find common ground

Argentine President Javier Miley, who was before taking office Pope Francis scoffed Described as an “idiot” and accused of violating the Ten Commandments, he met with the pope on Monday for an hour-long conversation that the Vatican described as “cordial.”

The Vatican said in a statement that the two leaders spoke in a private meeting about their common desire to strengthen relations and talked about the Miley government’s program to confront the economic crisis in Argentina, where the annual inflation rate is 211 percent.

On social media, Mr. Miley’s office I posted a picture The Pope with the President and the President’s sister Karina Maili, one of his closest advisors.

The Vatican said the discussions, which came a day after Mr. Miley attended a mass for the canonization of Argentina’s first female saint, also addressed international issues, “particularly ongoing conflicts and the commitment to peace among nations.”

Good faith was not a given. Both men were born in Buenos Aires, and although the Pope is considered a national hero to many in Argentina, where… The majority of people identify themselves as Roman CatholicsMr Miley, who says he is an “anarcho-capitalist” and ran under the banner of a far-right libertarian party, He repeatedly denigrated Francis’ reputation.

In the years leading up to his election in November, Mr Maili often attacked the Pope, who has repeatedly spoken out in his writings and speeches against free market economies for generating income inequality that affects the most vulnerable.

In 2020, Mr Miley described Francis as a “representative of evil on earth” because of the pope’s advocacy of “social justice”. Two years later, Mr Miley said Francis was “always on the side of evil” because The Pope supported taxes.

Francis appeared unfazed, dismissing the criticism as electoral exaggeration. The Pope said Mr Miley’s comments were made “in jest”. Interview In December with a Mexican broadcaster.

“You have to make a lot of distinction between what a politician says on the campaign trail and what he actually does afterward, because then comes the moment of making decisions,” Francis added.

Francis has often downplayed criticism, even the most critical, as part of a strategy to keep political doors open, even with leaders who have views he rejects.

It was not always in his favor. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the Pope was initially criticized for his stance toward Moscow. Finally he called out the assailant Only months later.

Mr. Maylie’s tone toward the Pope softened after that Elected president late last yearwhen Francis called him after his victory. Mr. Miley’s office said in a statement at the time that the pope called Mr. Miley “to congratulate him and to express his wishes for unity and progress for our country.”

On Sunday, Mr. Mayle attended a mass for the beatification of María Antonia de Paz y Figueroa, known as Mama Antola, an 18th-century woman who gave up her wealth to care for the poor. It also kept alive the work of the Jesuits, the order to which Francis belonged, after her expulsion from Argentina.

Francis praised her on Sunday as “a model of apostolic zeal and boldness for us” and urged his listeners to overcome prejudice and fear and get closer to the poor. He said: “How many suffering men and women do we meet on the sidewalks of our cities.”

After the ceremony, Francis was taken in a wheelchair to greet the Argentine president. The two men exchanged a few words before Mr. Mayle leaned over and hugged Francis.

Vatican experts widely speculated that the two leaders would talk about a possible papal trip to Argentina during their meeting, but the Vatican has not confirmed any talks on the subject. Francis has made 44 trips outside Italy since becoming pope nearly 11 years ago, but has never returned to his home country. In January Mr. Miley Issue an official invitation.

in Friday interview with Vatican NewsArchbishop Jorge Ignacio Garcia Cuerva of Buenos Aires, an official Vatican enforcer, said the Argentine people are waiting for Pope Francis and “want to meet their priest.”

The Archbishop also spoke about the current economic situation in Argentina. In the two months since Mr. Miley took office, Inflation rose The value of the national currency fell, leading to protests and strikes. Despite the economic chaos, Mr. Miley’s approval rating has remained high.

“On the one hand, we cannot remain indifferent, because for us, indicators of poverty and indicators of want tell us about concrete faces, about concrete brothers and sisters who are going through a very bad time,” the Archbishop said.

He added: “They are not numbers but tangible faces, and as I always say, political, business and religious leaders, we all have a little bit of responsibility in getting to this situation.”

Mr. Miley arrived in Italy from Israel, where he had been He promised to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem, from Tel Aviv. The decision was praised by the Israeli government and criticized by Hamas, the Palestinian armed group with which Israel is at war in the Gaza Strip.

He was scheduled to meet Mr. Miley Hard-right Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Melonion Monday afternoon.

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