(CNN Spanish) – – In the midst of Argentina’s presidential election campaign, a group of priests from popular villas and parishes in the country’s Catholic Church held a “Mass of Atonement for Pope Francis” on Tuesday. This comes as right-wing populist candidate Javier Milei returned to public debate for offensive comments from previous years against the Supreme Pontiff, in which he called him a “communist”, “left-hander” and “representative of the evil one on earth”.
The economist has brought many controversies for statements over time, as he has become a public figure, which has caused all kinds of reactions. However, as the election race progressed towards October, the leader of La Libertad Avanza streamlined his speech on different topics. Although he used extreme labels against the pope at the 2020 event, after the primaries, he qualified that he was going to respect Francisco as “the head of the Catholic Church.”
“We are here to say that we love the Pope and that we need his word, that he may continue to stir our hearts in the hope that another world is possible,” said Monsignor Gustavo Carrara, vice bishop and vicar general of Buenos Aires. , presided over a mass celebrated by more than 40 priests at the Virgen de los Milagros de Caacupé parish, located in Barrio 21-24, one of the capital’s many “villas,” as Argentina calls slum neighborhoods.
Organizers explained that the location was chosen because then-Archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Mario Bergoglio (today Francisco) arrived there by bus and walked along the sidewalk to meet neighbors and priests, and recalled that “he was always very loved.” In the neighborhood. “Usually, those who make him worse don’t know these places like he did, that’s why they talk about poverty, about social programs… I know what it’s like when there’s nothing. These people often don’t go through this,” said the father, who was in charge of the diocese for many years. “Pepe” Di Paola told CNN.
During the liturgy, the priests read a document in which they “vehemently deny the various expressions of the candidate of La Libertad Avanza, Javier Millay, which affect the person of Pope Francis. Represent our country for false comments about the Pope’s views, calling him a communist (August and September 2018) , to speak disparagingly of what the image of the successor of Peter represents, offends the sensibilities of the Catholic flock and those who admire him.”.
“Surprisingly, we were able to verify the Holy Father (…) in tweets prior to 2017, so that hatred grew in his messages, becoming unlimited grievances until 2018, when he referred to Francis as the worst insults, crossing all boundaries of hatred. January 11, 2018 and June 29 , as we pointed out in statements dated 2019, the Pope has done nothing but renew the social doctrine of the Church and the jurisprudence of his predecessors,” the statement read by the priests continued.
In another passage of the text, the priests wrote, “One wonders if someone with that emotional disorder, who cannot meet someone who thinks differently without being yelled at or insulted, can withstand the tensions of the public office they desire.”
Among the thousands of people at the event were many ministers and officials of the national government. President Alberto Fernández was not present, but, according to a report by state news agency Telam, “a letter was read from the Virgin of Cacube Parish, sharing with you the reasons for the invitation, in support and recognition of Pope Francis on Unity Day”.
“Complaints say more about who says them than who receives them, but as a church we have to protect that,” said Daniel Pez, a priest who came to Buenos Aires from the northern Missions province. country, to participate in this mass. Di Paola, for his part, noted that “there are no insults” in the celebration, and “I think it’s good to return with the same coin, even if it’s to reject one’s insult. The good thing about it is to respond, en masse, with song”.
The unusual mass was held less than two months before the presidential election on October 22, and after the primaries on August 13, in which Millay was the most popular candidate, receiving just 30% of the vote.
CNN has reached out to Miley for comment about her campaign and her current stance on the pope.
This text has been updated