Thursday, June 17, 2021

ARGENTINA | 13-11-2019 14:24

Pope Francis: It's looking 'difficult' to travel to Argentina in 2020

"I have other trips planned," says pontiff. Since assuming the papacy in 2013, Argentine has yet to visit his homeland.

Since he assumed the papacy in 2013, Pope Francis has been vague about an eventual visit to Argentina. And for what it's worth, it seems he won't be coming any time soon.

The Buenos Aires-born pontiff said Wednesday it seemed " a little difficult" for a trip home to take place in 2020 due to commitments he's already made for the upcoming year. 

"It was decided to leave Argentina and Uruguay for later," Francis explained. 

"I want to go," the pope, formerly known as Jorge Mario Begoglio, said in an interview with Telám. 

Francis also recalled he tried to travel home in November 2017, as part of a tour that was going to include Chile and Uruguay, but tense elections in Argentina's neighbour across the Andes at that time made the trip impossible. 

A papal visit to Argentina has been highly anticipated since Francis became the leader of the Catholic Church in 2013. Since his coronation, face time with the Argentine pope is practically required for political success. Hundreds of government officials have visited him at the Vatican, including many Peronists, with whom he has an especially close tie. 

Pope Francis welcomed Mauricio Macri to the Vatican not long after the PRO leader assumed the presidency in 2016. However, the result was not what Macri had hoped for: the meeting lasted only 22 minutes and media photos reflected the discomfort of Pope Francis.

Only the presence of Antonia Macri, the president's youngest daughter, remained a positive memory from the duo's encounter months later. 

At the time, Antonia Macri was six years old, and she was able to bring the two leaders together in a way more compelling than anything that took place during her father's administration. She asked Pope Francis if he had "a mum and a dad," if he "slept with this clothing," and what foods he liked most. 

Last June, the president of the Argentine Synod had said Pope Francis "was already thinking when" he could come to this country. Oscar Ojea estimated it would be "at the end of 2020 or during 2021."

On two occasions, the pope has flown over Argentine airspace. The first, in 2015 during a trip through Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. The second, in January 2018 on his way to Chile. 

For next year, Francis confirmed to Telám his interest in travelling to Iraq and South Sudan as part of an ecumenical trip together with Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby, if the political conditions allow it. 

It remains to be seen if he will come to Argentina in 2021, when Alberto Fernández is likely to be president. 


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