Pope to Argentinians: I Won’t Make Trip Home in 2017

In message, Holy Father says, despite his great desire to travel to his homeland, he won’t be able to next year, due to commitments in Asia and Africa.

Pope Francis waves an Argentine flag July 25, 2013.
Pope Francis waves an Argentine flag July 25, 2013. (photo: Alex Mazzullo via JMJ Rio via Flickr (CC BY-NC SA 2.0) via CNA)

VATICAN CITY — In a special message to his fellow countrymen, Pope Francis said that, despite his great desire to return home, he won’t be able to go in 2017, as previously hoped, due to commitments in Asia and Africa.

Francis had previously expressed his desire to return to his native Argentina for the country’s bicentenary anniversary, as well as the coming beatification of Mama Antula and canonization of Cura Brochero, known as the “Gaucho priest,” who will be the first saint to be born and die in Argentina.

The canonization and beatification, he said, are events “that make our history” and which are “very important and very strong, and which I greatly value.”

“Needless to say, I had wanted to go to Argentina to beatify Mama Antula and to canonize Cura Brochero, but I couldn’t do it; it’s not possible,” he said.

The Pope stressed: “You know how much I would like to see you,” but relayed that he isn’t able to go next year either “because there are already commitments fixed for Asia and Africa,” though he didn’t give details.

Plus, “the world is larger than Argentina,” he said, adding that he would leave it in God’s hands “to tell me the date” of a possible future visit.

Francis made the announcement in a video message that was released by the Vatican paper L’Osservatore Romano’s local, Argentinian version, which is the first national edition of the publication.

In his message, the Pope said he continues to feel like an Argentinian and still travels with an Argentine passport.

As a people, Argentinians “are the greatest treasure our homeland has,” he said. The Pope said he feels joy and consolation whenever he receives letters from his fellow countrymen, and he said that he prays for “each one of you, for your needs,” at Mass.

He encouraged them to work toward a culture of encounter, capable of overcoming “all these cultures of waste that are offered everywhere in today’s world.”

This type of culture, he said, would be one in which each person has their place and in which “the whole world can live with dignity and each can peacefully express themselves without being insulted or condemned, attacked or discarded.”

Prayer and goodwill are the primary tools needed in order to achieve this culture, he said, and encouraged his countrymen to do works of mercy every day.

Listing out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, Francis said they are concrete acts that each person can do. “If each of us does one a day or one every two days, what good we will do for our people!” he said.

The Pope assured his closeness to the Argentine people, particularly on the occasion of the coming beatification and canonization of “two people, a man and a woman, who worked for the homeland and for evangelization.”

“So, in the midst of all this, I greet you; I give you my love, and I tell you — it seems a bit odd, but time has stretched like elastic — see you soon, and don’t forget to pray for me.”