The very harsh accusation of “being on the side of bloody dictatorships” that Javier Milei made this week to Pope Francis had an immediate effect on the relationship with the Church. The leadership of the Episcopate put a visit by the libertarian in the freezer to the highest ecclesiastical authorities of the country that his relatives were managing. However, in the Vatican they say – as they have been saying for months – that the pontiff continues thinking about coming to Argentina in 2024 “whoever wins the elections.” At the same time they repeat that the only condition is his health, which today – they assure – is very well.
Milei’s statements during an interview with the controversial ultra-conservative North American journalist Turcker Carlson – in which he reiterated his criticism of the concept of social justice upheld by Catholicism – not only caused logical stupor in the ecclesiastical circles. Also surprise -beyond her well-known unpredictable and temperamental personality- because it was thought that after the mass of reparation to the pontiff of the village priests Because of the insults he had given him in the past, the libertarian would avoid, at least for a time, attacking the Pope.
Nor did Milei take into account the repudiation of his statements that was pronounced days after the mass of reparation by the president of the Episcopate, Bishop Oscar Ojea, one of the clerics close to the libertarian. They wanted the La Libertad Avanza candidate to visit. Ojea said that the libertarian “expressed himself with irreproducible insults and falsehoods.” And that Francis is for Catholics “a prophet of human dignity in a time of violence and exclusion”, as well as “a Head of State to whom particular respect is owed.”
Even more surprising was that he said what he said the day after that, on Wednesday, on TN, he stated that these types of disqualifications “I no longer do anymore since I have been in politics.” after accusing the village priests of being “dishonest” for having based the compensation on “a video from five years ago” and wonder if the village priests said something “when Hebe de Bonafini uttered nonsense about the Pope.” Even after the PASO he said over and over again that he respects the Pope “as head of the Church and head of State.”
Another effect that Milei’s latest accusations had was that they shut down the entire Church after the mass of reparation had generated a strong internal debate. Although, obviously, the rejection of the libertarian’s statements was unanimous, those who did not agree with the religious office not only said that the grievances were years ago, but that the Church should not be involved in the campaign objecting to a candidate. . Much less, objecting through a mass, which is a sacrament.
The leadership of the Episcopate and Francis himself – as Vatican sources clarified at the time – did not agree with the mass. In fact, the highest ecclesiastical authorities did not agree (only Ojea spoke out regarding the importance of the religious office and, incidentally, expressed the right of the Church to expose its social doctrine without being attacked). It was symptomatic that the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge García Cuerva, has not attended even though the mass was celebrated in his jurisdiction.
In any case, the mass of reparation accelerated a tradition of the main candidates before each presidential election. Go see the village priests to listen to the needs of their neighborhoods. The one who came out on top was the ruling party’s candidate, Sergio Massa, who is known to have not had a good relationship with Francisco since he tried to oust him from his position as archbishop of Buenos Aires, but – certainly tenacious – he does not abandon the hope of rebuilding the bond.
To the joy of the village priests – who were beginning to receive criticism for supposedly leaning towards Massa – Patricia Bullrich also asked them for a meeting in which she surprised them by revealing that she had sent a letter to the Pope in which she asked him to come to the country. When asking for their help to make the visit happen, she argued that Argentina will probably never have a pontiff again and that Francis can be of great help in getting the country out of the quagmire.
More than one clergyman wondered how this Bullrich attitude fell within the ranks of Together for Change, where there are leaders who are usually very harsh with the Pope such as Miguel Ángel Pichetto and Fernando Iglesias. If it was an electoral attitude, surely Jaime Durán Barba would disapprove of it because – a priest recalled – at the beginning of Macri’s presidency he said that the pontiff “did not get even ten votes.”
And will the village priests receive Milei? The main representative of the group, Father Pepe Di Paola, said after the mass of reparation that if the libertarian wants to have a meeting with them, he must first apologize for the accusations against the Pope. Far from such an attitude, the libertarian doubled the bet.