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ARGENTINA | 11-01-2024 14:17

Milei completes papal U-turn, invites Pope Francis to visit Argentina

In November, he accused the Pope of having an affinity for “murderous communists.” Now, President Milei extends a formal invitation to Pope Francis to visit Argentina.

What a difference an election makes – just months after slamming him as a “Communist,” President Javier Milei has extended an official invitation to Pope Francis to visit his native country. 

In a letter sent by the Presidency, Milei thanked the Pope for the phone call they shared last month, highlighting that his “wise advice and wishes of courage and wisdom [are] so necessary to face the challenge of directing the destinies of our country.”

He went on to invite the Argentine pontiff to visit his homeland, saying the visit would provide an inflation-weary population with a ray of papal sunshine and a renewed sense of unity.

It’s quite the turnaround. During last year’s presidential election campaign, the then-candidate used a high-profile interview with right-wing US commentator Tucker Carlson to attack Francis, accusing the pontiff of being a “Communist” and cosying up to “bloody” dictatorships in Latin America.

Following the interview, the president conversed with the Pope on November 21 – two days after his election run-off win – over the phone. Pope Francis congratulated Argentina’s president-elect on his victory, and they spoke for five minutes on good terms.

Here are the key takeaways from the libertarian’s letter to the Pope:

  • Economic challenges
    In his invitation letter, the president addresses the challenges facing Argentina, such as poverty and the economic crisis. He explains that urgent measures must be taken to avoid “a social catastrophe with painful consequences.”Milei says he is proposing government measures meant to transform the situation that Argentina has suffered for decades. Milei thanks the Pope for his gestures of encouragement and says he has prioritised the protection of the most vulnerable during his first weeks in office. The president connects his work in office to the social action of the Catholic Church, which he describes as "invaluable."
  • A beloved homeland
    Milei formally invites the Pope to his homeland. "You know well that you do not need an invitation to come to your beloved Argentina,” he says. “I invite you to visit our beloved country… bearing in mind the widespread desire of our cities, provinces and towns to count on your presence and to convey to you their filial affection.”
  • National unity
    President Milei sees the Pope's potential visit as a national opportunity for unity and co-patriotism. He writes that the Pope’s visit “will bring fruits of pacification and brotherhood to all Argentines, [who are] anxious to overcome our divisions and confrontations.” At the end of the letter, Milei iterates his “high consideration” and respect for the Pope’s work. He says that a visit from the Pope would provide Argentines with a sense of “collective strength necessary to preserve peace.”
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– TIMES/NA

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