Argentine President Javier Milei has found himself face-to-face with Pope Francis at the Vatican, marking their first encounter since the outspoken libertarian’s scathing criticisms of the pontiff.
President Milei, a former critic of Pope Francis, attended the canonisation Mass of Argentina’s first female saint, Mama Antula, at St. Peter’s Basilica.
Milei, now in office, displayed a more tempered tone towards the Pope, with whom he had exchanged insults before running for president.
Maria Antonia de Paz y Figueroa, better known as “Mama Antula,” was an 18th-century consecrated laywoman who renounced family wealth to focus on charity and Jesuit spirituality.
The canonisation occurred amid Argentina’s severe economic crisis, with inflation exceeding 200%, and Milei facing challenges after parliamentary rejection of a major reform package.
President Milei had a front-row seat at the service, sharing warm words and a friendly embrace with the Argentinian Pope afterward.
The Pope “is the most important Argentine in history”, Milei told Radio Mitre on Saturday.
Milei is scheduled for a private audience with Pope Francis on Monday.
Pope Francis, who has not visited Argentina since becoming pope in 2013, mentioned the possibility of a trip in the second half of the year.