A few months in the Casa Rosada have been enough for Javier Milei to radically change his opinion about Pope Francis. The Argentine president, who before his surprising victory in the autumn elections believed that his compatriot was an "imbecile", a "left-wing son of a bitch who walks around proclaiming communism" or "the representative of the Evil One on Earth", has recognized that lately he has been forced to "reconsider some positions" on the Pontiff, who received him yesterday for the first time in the Vatican.
The far-right president explained his change of attitude in an interview broadcast last night on the Italian channel Rete 4. As he reasoned, things evolve and are understood, and one of the things he has "understood in these recent times" is that "the Pope is the most important Argentinian person in all of Argentina" and "the leader of Catholics in the world". Consequently, he added, "all this entails something very important: it represents a very important institution, especially in a country like Argentina, which has so many Catholic roots". Since he understood this they began to "build a positive bond".
This positive bond was embodied yesterday with an audience of more than an hour at the Holy See, more time than the Pontiff usually devotes to heads of government who visit the Apostolic Palace. Milei left visibly satisfied with a "very good and very friendly" audience, as Vatican sources told the Argentine newspaper La Nación. Among the gifts he gave her were the typical sweets of his country, such as lemon cookies and the Pontiff's favorite dark chocolate alfajores.
In the images they sent to the media, the Pope appeared very smiling. The Jesuit pontiff responded with some of his writings and a bronze medallion with a cross and a dove inspired by the canopy of St. Peter's Basilica by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, which symbolizes "the harmony between the sacred and the divine , which unites heaven and earth".
The politician then met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Paul Richard Gallagher, with whom he discussed issues such as world wars and the commitment to peace. In addition, Milei, who defines himself as a Catholic, although he also "practices a little Judaism", took the opportunity to explain to them his controversial program to combat the economic crisis in his country.
With the meeting, Mileus and the Pope finally sealed the peace after all the disqualifications. In the election campaign, the far-right even told the controversial ex-presenter of Fox News Tucker Carlson that he was on the side of "bloody dictatorships", but an unexpected call from the Jesuit pope to congratulate him on the victory already made him lower the tone On Sunday, a hug between the two at the end of the canonization mass of the first Argentine saint opened the new stage. "You've cut your hair!" commented Jorge Mario Bergoglio. "I've fixed them," replied the Argentine president, as he bent down to hug the Pope, who has been using a wheelchair for some time to get around because of his knee problems.
Now we have to see if Milei's friendly face will be enough to convince Papade to carry out his long-awaited trip to Argentina, which could be organized during the second half of this year. Francis has not returned to his homeland since he was elected in the conclave of 2013, more than ten years ago, an absence that has puzzled Argentines, since he has visited other neighboring countries such as Brazil, Paraguay and Chile.