An ecclesiastical source in Buenos Aires has confirmed that Pope Francis will be making his first trip to Argentina as head of the Catholic Church in December 2013, not long after the midterm elections that are scheduled to take place in October 2013.
“It is still premature to discuss what places he will visit, but it is likely that he will be with us, his fellow countrymen, for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which is observed on December 8,” the source said to the private news agency DyN.
Originally it was wondered if Francis would visit his home country after supervising World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in July. But it has since been agreed that the pontiff should only come to Argentina after the midterm elections have taken place, so that the trip is not perceived as a political statement.
Argentine Cardinal Leonardo Sandri said on Monday that Pope Francis’ intentions are clear: “What I do know is that Francis did not wish to visit Argentina as an appendix of the Rio de Janeiro trip. On the contrary, he wanted to travel to Argentina as a trip in itself and therefore spend more time with his fellow-countrymen.”
The President formally invited Pope Francis to visit the country during their encounter at the Vatican on March 18, which was the first meeting the pontiff held with a head of state. “As it should be, I invited him to come to Argentina. He is a head of state and therefore two invitations are required: one from the country’s representative and another from the Synod,” explained Fernández de Kirchner during the press conference that followed the meeting.