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Milei and Pope Francis warmly embrace at Vatican despite past disparaging remarks

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Argentina’s president embraced Pope Francis during a lengthy meeting in Rome this week, ending a long-running feud with the pontiff.

President Javier Milei showed up at the Vatican and spoke with Pope Francis for more than an hour – an unusually long diplomatic meeting by the pope’s standards.

“One of the things I understood, among other things, is that the pope is the Argentine who is the most important person in the country,” Milei told Italian media outlet Retequattro.

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Pope Francis Milei

Argentine President Javier Milei greets Pope Francis before the start of the canonization mass of Argentina’s first saint, María Antonia de Paz y Figueroa, also known as “Mama Antula”, presided over by Pope Francis in the St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. (Vatican Media via AP, HO)

In the past, Milei has called Pope Francis a range of derogatory terms, including an “idiot” and a “son of a bitch.” The president once went so far as to call the pontiff a “representative of evil on Earth.”

Those past remarks seemed to evaporate Monday when Milei attended a canonization mass for Argentina’s newly recognized saint, María Antonia de Paz y Figueroa — a nun born in 1730 who cared for the poor and sick.

Pope Francis presided over the mass canonizing Figueroa, which the Argentine president attended. Milei hugged the pope after the liturgy.

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canonization mass

Pope Francis presides over the canonization of Argentina’s newest saint, María Antonia de Paz y Figueroa, in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

“God bless the Argentines and may the forces of heaven accompany us,” Milei’s office said on social media after the celebration.

The Argentine president said that it was only after meeting the pope personally that he began to understand the importance of his position and his diplomatic work.

“As a result, I had to reconsider certain positions, and from that moment we began to build a positive relationship,” Milei said in an interview.

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Pope Francis and Milei smile

Argentine President Javier Milei kisses Pope Francis as they meet in the pontiff’s studio at the Vatican for a private audience. (Vatican Media via AP, HO)

Pope Francis has repeatedly stated his intention to visit his home country in the coming years, but no definitive date has yet been set.

Milei’s office expressed similar enthusiasm for an apostolic trip to Argentina, suggesting it would take place soon.

“As for the pope, he is invited, he is Argentinian and he will certainly come but I don’t know when,” Argentine Foreign Minister Diana Mondino told Italian journalists.

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