EIt was like an encounter between father and (lost) son, and not just because of the 34-year age difference. “May I kiss you?” Argentine President Javier Milei asked his compatriot Jorge Mario Bergoglio, whom the world has known as Pope Francis for almost eleven years. “Yes, my son,” Francis replied with a laugh, and then there was that memorable embrace in St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday afternoon. The first personal meeting between Milei and Bergoglio took place at the end of the mass celebrated by the Pope for the canonization of the itinerant preacher and religious María Antonia de Paz y Figueroa (1730 to 1799), known in Argentina as “Mama Antula”.

Francis praised the first saint from Argentina, who worked for the poor and sick throughout her life, as a special example of charity in our time. “She traveled thousands of miles on foot, through deserts and dangerous routes, to bring God to the people. Today she is for us a model of apostolic zeal and courage,” the Pope said in his homily. In the intercessory prayer at the end of the Mass, Francis added: “Give our rulers the wisdom of dialogue and the will to work for the common good. So that they may overcome what divides and seek what unites.”