Sniffle. We’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting. And all that’s given us is disappointment. Today, in an 11-minute-long video, Pope Francis made clear that coming to Argentina is far from number one in his list of priorities, saying he won’t be coming to his homeland this year nor next. Although he cited commitments to Africa and Asia in 2017, he gave no details as to why he would not be visiting Argentina, Chile or Uruguay this year as had been the plan.
“You don’t know how much I would like to see you again. And I won’t be able to do it next year either because there are commitments with Asia and Africa, and the world is bigger than Argentina […] I leave God to define the date,” Francis said to the camera. “That is why I chose to communicate with you like this.”
In the video, Pope Francis directly addresses the Argentine people, saying that he is “convinced that [they] are the biggest treasure our homeland has” and emphasizing that he is still Argentine: “I still travel with my Argentine passport.”
He also asked the Argentine people to make an effort to help Argentina “improve [and] to grow.”
“Needless to say, I […] wanted to go to Argentina to beatify Mama Antula and canonize [the “gaucho priest”] Brochero but I can’t, it’s impossible,” explained Pope Francis, referencing two Argentine saints in the making. Father José Gabriel del Rosario Brochero is known as “the gaucho priest,” was from the province of Córdoba province and is known among other things for helping the sick during a cholera epidemic in 1867 and contracting leprosy late in life (legend has it that it came from sharing mate with a leper). Cura Brochero will be the first Argentine saint.
Mama Antula, or María Antonia de Paz y Figueroa, on the other hand, will be beatified (i.e. she still needs one more step to reach sainthood) an was from Santiago de Estero province: she organized religious retreats when the king of Spain expelled Jesuit priests from Argentina, eventually walking over 800 miles barefoot to do so.
In a monologue that he “wished were a chat,” Pope Francis described the recognition of these two Argentines as “very important and powerful.”
The Pope is still set to meet with President Mauricio Macri on October 15 at the Vatican.
“So, in the middle of this [long] greeting, I send you my affection and tell you although it seems strange, I will stretch time like an elastic [band] see you soon! And don’t forget to pray for me. Thank you.”
Resistencia Mayor Jorge Capitanich said he spoke with the pope earlier this week who told him that he doesn’t like to travel to countries during election years. In 2017, Argentines will go to the polls across the country for a midterm election. “This would imply he would visit Argentina in 2018 but that is something for the [pope] to decide,” Capitanich, who was Cabinet chief for Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, said.