Pastries and biscuits as Argentinian Miley reconciles with Pope Francis

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Written by Alvis Armellini

Vatican City (Reuters) – President of Argentina Javier Miley He visited his countryman Pope Francis At the Vatican on Monday, carrying pastries and gifts as he seeks to reconcile with the pope who has long excommunicated and mocked him.

Miley, a rebellious right-wing liberal, insulted Francis during his election campaign, calling him a “social justice idiot.” But he has changed his tune in office as he tries to rally support at home amid mounting challenges.

He praised the pope as “the most important Argentine in history” during an interview at the weekend. Presidential spokesman Manuel Adorni said that on Monday he brought alfajores de dulce de leche pastries and a type of lemon biscuit that the pope loves.

Francis and Meli met as Argentina faces its worst economic crisis in decades, with inflation soaring above 200%, and newly appointed Meli faces difficulty after parliament rejects a major reform package.

The Vatican said they spoke for about an hour.

Francis, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires who has angered some of his compatriots by not visiting his homeland since becoming pope in 2013, said he may visit “suffering” Argentina in the second half of this year.

Securing such a visit could help Miley rally support from his conservative Catholic base and help the president move forward with his reforms.

Over the weekend, Miley stressed the moral leadership role Francis plays in a predominantly Catholic country like Argentina.

Francis previously said he did not want to be politically exploited by Argentine politicians. He said on Friday that “radical individualism” is permeating society like a “virus,” in words that may clash with Miley’s radical free-market instincts.

Francis and Melé exchanged warm words on Sunday, at the end of the canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the first Argentine saint, María Antonia de Paz y Figueroa, an 18th-century consecrated laywoman known as “Mama Antola.”

Francis, who is 87 and has difficulty walking, was in a wheelchair when he went to greet Miley after the service. He smiled at him and extended his hand and said to him: I cut your hair!

Miley, who still wears his hair unconventionally long for a politician, joked about improving his mannerisms and asked if he could hug and kiss the Pope. “Yes, son, yes,” Francis replied, smiling.

(Reporting by Natalia Siniawski; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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