Pope 'worried' by Argentine politics: Vatican official17 september 2014, 15:18
Pope Francis is concerned about the political situation in his native Argentina, the Vatican's chief of ceremonies said Tuesday ahead of a visit by President Cristina Kirchner, AFP reports.
"The pope is worried about governability, about a healthy democracy," said Guillermo Karcher, one of the pope's closest associates.
"He's Argentine, he's lived what we've all lived in our country's recent history. And it seems to me that it's urgent to keep an eye on this democratic process, because it's good for all of us," he added in an interview with Argentine radio network America.
Karcher made the comments in response to a question about an Argentine labor leader's prediction that the country was on the brink of exploding into social unrest.
Discontent has been mounting in Argentina over an economic recession, annual inflation of more than 30 percent and growing pressure to devalue the peso for the second time this year.
The country is still dealing with the fallout of its 2001 crisis, when tens of thousands of people took to the streets to vent their wrath over an economic meltdown and a freeze on bank deposits.
Rioting and a government crackdown left 33 people dead.
Francis, who has not returned to Argentina since being elected pope in March 2013, will welcome Kirchner at the Vatican for a working lunch Saturday.
It will be a "tete-a-tete, a private meeting," said Karcher, who is also Argentine and worked with the pope when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires.
Karcher said all topics would be up for discussion, including Argentina's $1.3 billion debt dispute with two US hedge funds, which saw the country enter default in July for the second time in 13 years.
The pope personally extended the invitation in a handwritten note to Kirchner, who heads a center-left coalition government and has been in office since taking over from her late husband Nestor in 2007.