Pope Francis met Argentina’s President Javier Milei in a highly publicized meeting

President Javier Milei and Pope Francis met in the Vatican for a historic dialogue in a once unthinkable meeting.

The long-anticipated meeting between Javier Milei and Pope Francis took place in the Vatican. The President had a private meeting with the Pontiff for 70 minutes. After that, the president’s sister and general secretary, Karina Milei, joined them; and then the ministers who were part of the delegation: Guillermo Francos (Interior), Diana Mondino (Foreign Relations) and Sandra Pettovello (Human Capital).

Milei and Francisco discussed the political and economic situation in Argentina. It was an honest conversation, where different ideological perspectives met, but always in the same direction: the way to overcome the crisis, protect the poorest and stimulate productive growth.

Javier Milei got to the Holy See at 8:58 local time (4:58 in Argentina). He was welcomed at the Apostolic Palace by the Swiss Guard and then ascended the gray granite stairs until he got to the Vatican library. Francisco greeted him with a smile when he arrived, the official delegation remained outside, and for the first time the president and supreme pontiff were alone to engage in a conversation that lasted longer than expected.

In the official photos that the Vatican released of the meeting through international agencies, the two leaders look happy. Yesterday they had already had a friendly meeting during the canonization ceremony of Mama Antula, when the leader of the Church received an out-of-protocol hug from the Argentine president in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The exchange of gifts is a tradition whenever the Pontiff holds an audience. As explained by spokesman Manuel Adorni, Milei gave the pope a folder with a copy of the handwritten letter from Chancellor José María Gutiérrez to Juan Bautista Alberdi, accrediting him as representative in Europe (May 1854); a painting with the commemorative postcard of Mama Antula that the Argentine Post distributed on the occasion of her beatification (August 2017) and dulce de leche alfajores and lemon cookies.

In addition, he brought him a personal gift: books by Jesús Huerta de Soto, the Spanish economist that he frequently quotes in his speeches and that he mentioned on December 10, after taking office as President, to refer to poverty. “As the great Jesús Huerta de Soto says, anti-poverty plans generate more poverty, the only way to get out of poverty is with more freedom,” said the head of state in front of Congress.

The leader of the Catholic Church, on his part, presented him with a bronze medallion inspired by the Baldachin of Saint Peter, the volumes of papal documents and this year’s Message for Peace.

“He was satisfied with the economic program and its social containment” implemented by the government as of December 10 of last year, Milei said.

For its part, the Vatican issued a statement about the meeting between the head of state and the Supreme Pontiff that says: “During the cordial conversations in the Secretariat of State, satisfaction was expressed for the good relations between the Holy See and the Argentina and the desire to strengthen them even more. Next, they focused on the new Government’s program to confront the economic crisis and addressed various international issues, particularly current conflicts and the commitment to peace between nations”.

Milei, a liberal economist, has been a harsh critic of his compatriot. While campaigning in last year’s presidential election last year, accusing the “nefarious” pope of political interference and calling him an “imbecile” who “promotes communism.”

However, ties were reset after Francis called Milei to congratulate him on his election win.

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