Pope Francis intends to “return to Argentina” in 2024, for the first time since the beginning of his pontificate, he told Swiss writer and journalist Arnaud Bédat, whom he received in an audience on April 22, 2023. He explained that he wanted to wait until the end of the presidential election in Argentina – this October 22 – before returning to his native country.
Arnaud Bédat told I.MEDIA that he was received by the Pontiff for about 20 minutes in the Apostolic Palace. The Holy Father told him of his desire to see his family and friends again.
The Pope reminded him that in 2013, before his election, he left Buenos Aires “with everything” – the keys to the archdiocese as well as his Holy Week homilies. “And when I took the plane, well, I thought I would come back very quickly,” he explained to the reporter, smiling.
The Pontiff also announced his desire to return to Argentina later on Saturday to an Argentine journalist, Joaquín Morales Solá, of the daily La Nacion. He told him that he wanted to announce his trip now so that his visit would not be exploited by a political party. The Holy See has the habit of avoiding any travel to a country during an election year to prevent any political manipulation.
In the past, Pope Francis had planned a trip to his country in 2017, on the occasion of a trip during which he would visit both Chile and Uruguay, but had to postpone it due to the holding of elections in Chile. When he returned to Latin America for a trip to Chile and Peru in 2018, a trip to Argentina was no longer possible.
Another trip was announced in 2016 on the occasion of the Eucharistic Congress in Tucumán, but did not materialize.
Arnaud Bédat is close to the pope’s sister, Maria Elena, and his nephew Jose Ignacio, whom he met while writing his book François l’Argentin. Le pape intime, raconté par ses proches (“Francis, the Argentinian: the intimate pope, described by those closest to him,” 2014, not yet available in English).