Pope Francis confirmed he will meet President Javier Milei in the Vatican in February and said he is ready to “start a dialogue” with him. However, Francis said his potential visit to Argentina this year is still a “hypothesis.”
During an interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa, Francis said he will be meeting Milei when he goes to the Vatican for the canonization of María Antonia de Paz y Figueroa, better known as “Mama Antula,” who will become the first Argentine saint on February 11.
“Before canonizations it is customary to greet the authorities in the sacristy,” the Pope said. “And then I know that he asked for an appointment for an interview with me: I accepted, and therefore we will meet.”
The pontiff added he is “ready to begin a dialogue — speaking and listening — with him.”
Before going into politics, Milei described the Pope as “the representative of the Evil One on Earth.” In September, he said that “the pope is a political player who has shown affinity for dictators” and “murderous communists,” citing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and Cuban politician Raúl Castro. Milei later apologized, saying the pope would be respected if he visits Argentina during his presidency.
During the interview, the Pope said that Milei’s past attacks did not offend him, adding that “words in campaigning come and go.”
A government source told the Herald that the private meeting is likely to take place on February 12, the day after the canonization of the saint. Milei has already confirmed a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on February 11.
Three weeks ago, Milei invited Pope Francis to visit Argentina in a letter in which he recognized his austerity and economic deregulation measures might “broaden inequity.” In this context, he added, the pontiff’s presence would be positive for the Argentine people.
A few days later, Francis said that the people of Argentina were suffering and that he hopes to be able to make his first trip back to his homeland from August onwards, after a planned visit to some countries in Polynesia.