The Argentine president is changing strategy on his relationship with the sovereign pontiff. Javier Milei is to be received for the first time this Monday at the Vatican by Pope Francis, a native like him of Buenos Aires, an audience intended to smooth out their relations while Argentina is experiencing an explosive economic situation.
This 53-year-old ultraliberal economist is making his first official visit to Rome two months after taking office as president of Argentina. During the audience, the two men are expected to discuss a possible trip by the pope to Argentina, where he has not returned since becoming head of the Catholic Church in 2013.
A first meeting on Sunday
On Sunday, the two men were all smiles during a mass celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica for the canonization of Argentina’s first saint, the 18th-century nun and missionary María Antonia de San José, known as “Mama Antula “. For the occasion, Javier Milei gave his 87-year-old compatriot a warm hug.
However, relations are very complicated between the two men. After accusing the pope last year of political interference, Javier Milei softened his tone, encouraging him to go to Argentina.
Accustomed to provocative and impulsive outings, Javier Milei had, during his electoral campaign, treated the pope as a “nefarious character”, an “imbecile who promotes communism” or a “representative of the Evil One” on Earth, before radically changing his tone. , offering his “apologies” and assuring him to “respect” him. In November, however, Francis called the newly elected president to congratulate him and, ignoring the latter’s insults towards him, sent him a rosary.
Radically different positions
Above all, everything seems to separate the libertarian with far-right positions from the Jesuit who advocates aid to the most deprived and denounces the excesses of the financial markets. On ecology for example, a strong theme of the pontificate, Javier Milei assures that climate change is not “a responsibility of man”, where the pope denounces the impact of man on the “Common Home” .
The two men also radically differ on how to fight poverty, which affects 40% of the Argentine population. Since the start of his pontificate, Pope Francis has continued to point out the inequalities generated by the market economy and to call for the protection of the most vulnerable in society. Javier Milei wants to quickly deregulate his country’s economy.