By Alvise Armellini
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Argentina’s President Javier Milei visited his compatriot Pope Francis within the Vatican on Monday, bearing pastries and presents as he seeks to make up with the pontiff he had lengthy dismissed and derided.
Milei, a maverick right-wing libertarian, had heaped insults on Francis throughout his vote marketing campaign, calling him an “imbecile who defends social justice”. However he has shifted tone in workplace as he tries to shore up help at dwelling amid mounting challenges.
He hailed the pope as “crucial Argentine in historical past” in an interview on the weekend. On Monday, he introduced alfajores de dulce de leche pastries and a model of lemon biscuits the pope likes, presidential spokesman Manuel Adorni stated.
Francis and Milei met as Argentina faces its worst financial disaster in many years, with inflation at greater than 200% and the newly put in Milei in issue following parliamentary rejection of a serious reform package deal.
They spoke for about one hour, the Vatican stated.
Francis, a former archbishop of Buenos Aires who has angered a few of his compatriots by not visiting his homeland since turning into pope in 2013, has stated he might lastly go to “struggling” Argentina within the second half of this yr.
Securing such a go to may assist Milei shore up help from his conservative Catholic base, and assist the president push forward along with his reforms.
On the weekend, Milei careworn Francis’ ethical management position for a majority-Catholic nation like Argentina.
Francis has beforehand stated he didn’t wish to be politically exploited by Argentinian politicians. On Friday, he stated “radical individualism” permeates society like a “virus”, in phrases that will jar with Milei’s radical free-market instincts.
Francis and Milei exchanged heat phrases on Sunday, on the finish of a canonisation Mass in St Peter’s Basilica for the primary feminine Argentine saint, Maria Antonia de Paz y Figueroa, an 18th century consecrated lay girl higher often known as “Mama Antula”.
Francis, who’s 87 and has issue strolling, was in a wheelchair as he went to greet Milei after the service. He smiled at him, prolonged his hand and informed him, “You chop your hair!”
Milei, who nonetheless wears his hair unconventionally lengthy for a politician, joked about having cleaned up his act and requested if he may hug and kiss the pope. A smiling Francis replied: “Sure, son, sure”.
(Extra reporting by Natalia Siniawski; Modifying by Andrew Heavens)
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